Innovating Political Elections with Division

Innovating Political Elections with DivisionIn honor of election day in the United States I thought I would run this post:

The Division template of the corporate innovation method, S.I.T., works by listing the components of the product or service, then dividing out a component either physically, functionally, or by preserving the characteristics of the whole. Here is a unique example of the Division template with political elections. This idea comes from innovation consultant, Lauchlan Mackinnon, in his blog, Think Differently!!.

“Political parties may say or do ‘anything’ to get elected. They will make alliances of convenience with powerful interests such as the media, big business, or unions, and they will take populist poll driven positions (which is not necessarily bad in itself in a democratic system). When a party gets elected however, it is not always the best person for the job who fills any role: it is a complex allocation system that balances party relationships and internal politics with the capabilities and contributions of members to fill the leadership roles.

My proposition is simple: what if we could split western democratic elections in to two phases or stages: a first election about the ideas and directions for the next term in government – the goals and aspirations that the people want the government to fulfill. Then run a second and completely independent election to determine the best people to fill those specific roles. Thus for example a democratic population could vote in not only the directions that are appropriate, for example health reform or financial reform, but they can also then call for suitable candidates to lead each portfolio and vote in specific people with appropriate backgrounds (for example in health reform or financial reform) to lead those portfolios and the implementation of those changes. A professor of health administration or economics or business administration or someone with deep industry experience in those areas would then have a much better chance of being selected than in our current system. And perhaps also we could focus each individual representing the country on serving the country and the world, rather than any party system.”

To extend this idea further, imagine “dividing” the political candidate out from their constituency and territory. Voters from another area would choose a candidate knowing they would not have to live with the results. After listening to the campaign promises, they elect a candidate based on issues that do not affect them. The benefit would be these voters can be more objective and not take into consideration territorial factors.

Another division observable in the U.S. midterm elections is separating the candidate from their party affiliation. Many campaign advertisements leave the political party out so voters pick candidates on the merits of their case rather than through party biases.

“Preserving” division divides the product or service into many smaller versions, each preserving characteristics of the whole. In this example, imagine voters had 100 votes instead of one. They could distribute votes to more than one candidate as a way to express preference on the issues. For example, if they liked a candidate from one party yet still liked some aspects of the other candidate, they might cast their 100 votes with a 70-30 split.

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Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at and at

Drew Boyd




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No Comments

  1. Zulema Dory on January 26, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Great writing. Will require a decent amount of time to think over this blog..

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