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Changing the Game: Brainstorming Peace in Iraq

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Americans now overwhelmingly believe a change in Iraq strategy is needed regardless of their initial positions on the war. Unfortunately, the options currently proposed involve undesirable consequences and offer little in the way of innovation. President Bush recently said, "I'm open to any idea or suggestion that will help us achieve our goals of defeating the terrorists and ensuring that Iraq's democratic government succeeds." Soon thereafter, the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said, "It's my impression that, frankly, there are no new ideas on Iraq." Coming up with creative ways for dealing with difficulties used to be a USA trademark. Is ingenuity no longer a fundamental American characteristic?

Great sports coaches, scientists, and business entrepreneurs change the game when their approach fails to achieve the results they want. Football quarterbacks mix it up by throwing the ball to open up the playing field. Medical researchers creatively visualize formulas to develop ground-breaking cures. Engineers conjure up revolutionary technologies by imagining wonderful inventions if only they existed. Are resolutions to conflicts any different in terms of the creative thinking processes needed to achieve breakthroughs?

The international relations "playing field" is offering a tremendous opportunity to change our "game" and creative solutions could well serve Iraqi desires to achieve peace. From reasonable to ridiculous, brainstorming a profusion of ideas without initial criticism or rejection can enhance the pool of options from which viable solutions can be realized. To get the American innovation ball rolling, the following suggestions are offered:

1. HOLLYWOOD Entertainment minds regularly figure out ways to beat overwhelming odds in their fantasy realms and some of them could prove useful in reality. Pull together a team of creative political TV and movie scriptwriters from shows like The Sum of All Fears, The Bourne Identity, The West Wing, The X-Files, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Mission: Impossible to develop a script that credibly transforms Iraq's current conundrum into an inspiring example for reformers in the region.

2. CONFLICT PREVENTION As the limits of military might become apparent, vigorously champion soft power methods that emphasize cultural and ideological means of international influence. Use pre-conflict management tools (PCMT) developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to address a range of factors before they result in the outbreak of violence. Draw upon best practices for deterring violent street gangs to constructively redirect sectarian conflicts.

3. MASTERFUL TRAINERS Call upon coaches from cutting-edge management training, systems, and education programs to provide their potentially transferable expertise to the international arena. For example:

* Ask the USC Institute for Creative Technologies to adapt their virtual immersion program for junior Army officers to train our nation's spokespersons in ways of communicating that lead to more desirable outcomes.

* Use programs like "Merging Cultures" and "The Organization Workshop" developed by Power and Systems, Inc. featured in Fast Company magazine to enhance understanding and performance effectiveness when diverse groups need to work together to achieve outcomes.

* Request IntelliLearn develop multi-sensory experiential programs that dramatically reduce training time while increasing retention for enhancing the skills of public servants.

* Invite Frontier Associates, Inc., dedicated to making "impossible" organizational changes possible without resistance, to enhance leadership effectiveness for empowering Iraqi forces as well as our own.

4. RECRUIT CELEBRITIES For better and worse, popular American stars broadcast an image of the U.S. around the globe. When they behave badly, their behaviors represent American cultural values to those in other countries, often causing a loss of respect. When taken to the extreme, their actions can even create a security risk for all Americans. Recruit celebrities like Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Mel, Michael, and Miss USA to make patriotic public service announcements that inspire hearts and minds by expressing humility and contrition instead of evoking anything but jealousy of our freedoms.

5. REVERSE CO-PAY Insurgents cannot be successful without support from the wider population. A "tough love" approach to how U.S. monetary contributions are dispensed might help Iraqis decide (and show us) who and what they want to support. For every person killed or injured by an insurgent attack, publicize a reverse co-pay system that diverts a portion of U.S. money slated to build hospitals, schools, and infrastructure in Iraq to a starvation relief effort in Africa.

6. MOTIVATION INTEGRITY A desire to control Iraqi oil and establish permanent military bases in the region has been widely perceived as motivating factors behind the U.S. occupation of Iraq. To help dispel these opinions and the negative actions they encourage, make repeated declarations these perceptions are inaccurate and back our words with dramatic measures to underscore these points.

7. REFRAMING: THE GOAL IS PEACE! Stop fighting terrorism to defend our way of life and start reinventing ourselves and our way of life. Acknowledge what is great about what we do as well as what needs to be changed because it isn't working. Strive for success for all groups involved rather than make winning the objective. Refocus our attention and resources away from the problem of terror (an emotion) and terrorism (a tactic/strategy for achieving political ends) and instead, put our effort into solutions that support the goal of peace and stability in Iraq, the region, and around the globe.

These ideas represent a small sample of what brainstorming the peace in Iraq can offer to change the game. Solutions abound for those willing to unleash transformative thinking processes and there are no limits on what all of us together can create. Yet as one notable American who overcame a series of "insurmountable" odds to achieve success once said:

"We can't become what we need to be by remaining what we are."

- Oprah Winfrey

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Colleen Turner Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Colleen Turner, Ph.D. is an executive coach, management trainer, consultant, and speaker who focuses on transformational communications. She is a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Colonel who has designed and evaluated terrorist defense (more...)
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