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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 28-Apr-19


Sunday 28-April-19

Brainers, golden geese and nudging politicians, using memorable memes

I live in a small, pleasant town and help out with the town team, who are an influencing group with the goal of increasing the prosperity of the local area. One of the ways we want to do this is to attract high tech businesses. As a part of this work we invited a chap from the regional government who can influence such decisions.

My goal in this meeting was to plant memes, ideas that would stick in his mind and return when he was making recommendations to businesses.

An early nudge, which also helped establish my credibility, was to talk about my years with Hewlett Packard, and how they always looked for sites in beautiful areas with good communication links where talented people would want to work. Of course, our town has these in spades.

I know this worked because he nodded as I was talking and then reflected on how companies like being big fish in smaller ponds, with the attraction that this creates for the best potential employees.

For the government, we are something of a cash cow, with high rates, rents and parking charges. Yet most high street shops are occupied and the town is often bustling. I acknowledged this and pointed out how, although traders were busy, they were struggling with costs and that we must be careful not to kill the golden goose that attracts so many spending visitors.

I later heard back the cash cow phrase, which was good, but nothing about golden geese, so I wasn't sure that this idea has landed. A partial win, perhaps. You can kill a meme by over-egging it, so I moved on.

A problem we have is that, being a nice area, we are not the top priority for government investment when there are many other needy areas. I framed this in novel phrasing by saying that there are some decisions which are no-brainers and obvious help is needed, but there are also 'brainer' decisions that require more thought, and that supporting engines of the local economy (such as our town) was just such a move.

This meme landed with a thud as he quickly got the idea and took up the conversation. Seeing closure happening, I shut up and let him lead.

As we left, he repeated that he would be thinking more about brainer choices. A later repetition like this was a great signal that the meme had taken hold. I left feeling I had achieved my goal. No commitments, but thinking nudged in the right direction.

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