What? We have all probably heard about the immigration debate that has been going on in the United States. This year congress took up the issue of immigration and the Democratic controlled Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but when the bill arrived in the Republican controlled house negotiations between Democrats and Republican began to break down. Each side had dug in their heels, and felt that their individual approaches would be most successful at solving the immigration problem.
So what? It is clear that both parties understand that immigration is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed (problem a), but agreeing on the approach to solving the issue (problem b) has become the sticking point that has caused negotiations to break down. It could be said that Republicans wanted to be more adaptive in their approach to cutting a deal. For example, Republicans are in favor of more incremental change that could be characterized as an adaptive approach that includes small changes within the current framework of the law. Many news outlets, and Republicans, describe this approach as the piecemeal approach. On the other hand, Democrats prefer a more innovative approach on immigration reform. For example, their approach is characterized by significant changes outside the current statutory framework. This approach to passing a bill is often referred to as comprehensive reform.
Now what? A lot of my classmates talked about the importance of bridging and bridgers this week in the forum. This is an example of how adaptive and innovative approaches can lead to a stalemate if there isn’t someone (a leader) who is willing to bridge the differences. A perfect example, which is also related to politics, is the fiscal cliff debate that took place last year. In this case, Republican preferred a more innovative approach with significant changes that included sweeping entitlement and tax code reform and Democrats wanted to take a more adaptive approach that included revenue increases and spending cuts. When negotiations finally broke down, in stepped Vice President Biden AKA the Bridger! The VP was able to bridge the differences in approaches and save the country from going off the fiscal cliff. This example reiterates the importance of having bridgers that can bring individuals in a group together to solve problems. Additionally, it highlights the importance of power and relationships. The positional power of the VP coupled with the personal relationships he had with members on both sides of the aisle were able to help him bring about change. A Bridger can give credibility and can provide valuable contributions to bringing the adaptive and innovative styles together in order to solve problems.