Navigating a Political Season Posted August 1, 2012 by Simple Rules Foundation

Here in the United States we are in the middle of election season: two major parties vying for the votes of constituents across town as well as across the country.  Whether nationally, locally or around the dinner table, voters are debating the policies, positions, and integrity of candidates to do what they promise to do, and govern in the best interests of all the people they represent.

Unfortunately, these politically charged times tend to bring out the worst – as well as the best – in people, including those running for office!  Airwaves are filled with political ads containing at least as much fiction as fact; every time a candidate states, “I never said that,” we can search the internet to find exactly when he DID say that; polls change from minute to minute and still manage to reflect someone’s bias; and special interests seem to get all the attention their money will buy.

Confused? You betcha!  So let me offer a simple and elegant tool called Adaptive Action, developed by Dr. Glenda  Eoyang through her exciting work in Human Systems Dynamics.  This tool consists of three simple questions:  What? So What? and Now What?  These questions can help you see, understand, and influence what is going on around you – and are valuable in creating your own simple rules.  Using this process, you can gather information; make meaning of it; and then act.  For example:

What (do you know)? 

  • What is the candidate saying now?
  • What has the candidate said in the past?
  • Are the candidate’s messages inclusive or exclusive; positive or negative?
  • Do you know who the candidate is; what is important to the candidate; and how the candidate connects with people?
  • What is the candidate’s approach to addressing tough issues?
  • Who is able to influence the candidate?
  • Advertisements are the best that money can buy and their focus is effect not accuracy.

So What (does that mean)?

  • Are the candidate’s priorities and values aligned with your own?
  • Does the candidate speak and act with integrity?
  • Can you trust this candidate to do what s/he says?
  • Are the candidate’s personal and professional histories transparent and reflective of his/her beliefs?
  • Do you believe this candidate?
  • Does this candidate really care about you?

Now What (are you going to do)?

  • Support the best individual.
  • Help individuals register to vote.
  • Vote for your candidate.

And, in the spirit of the season, let me offer some simple rules for that individual running for office. If these resonate with you, hold them up against your favorite contender and see how they measure up.

Simple Rules for individuals running for office.
  • Support health, well-being, safety and security.
  • Engage the community.
  • Create a sense of belonging.
  • Practice and promote social justice.
  • Stand up for diversity and inclusion.
  • Do no harm.