I have been watching Donald Trump with some interest. Not political interest because that is chaotic, but rather as an exercise in management. Governance if you will.
It has been my belief that when people stopped being elected to govern and replaced that purpose with politics, things became chaotic. Politics is about image and not so much about skill or substance. I have no judgement to make about Mr. Trump’s substance yet, but he is using entrepreneurial ideas in how he is approaching the job.
Entrepreneurs don’t care much about being right. The care about building something and they do it with processes not with events. You may have noted the political requirement that many people watch a politician sign a bill. Politicians like that sort of thing, because it is evidence of having done something. I would bet Mr. Trump would prefer to be doing something else.
He is someone who does things, watches for a while, then decides to double down because it works or quit because it does not. Politicians are image conscious and do not like the appearance of error and will do quite a lot to avoid admitting they were wrong. Less quitting, useless costs.
Historically, management decisions are right about a third of the time. Not very high, but when you see the results, it is high enough. Wins run for a long time. Losses lose little if you quit soon enough. It is bottom-up style. Evolving to good answers. Top-down is creationist and is very hard to execute. You must know too much in the beginning to make it a reasonable bet to get it right. Worse, top-down decisions are more rigid. They don’t adapt to change very well.
Which brings us to the intuitive understanding that people have about politicians. Voters know top-down doesn’t work, and politicians do not. Political experience is more likely a defect than a strength. Trump and others who will follow have no experience, so must invoke bottom-up implementation. He and the others will be wrong a good deal of the time and only the media will care. So long as they quit the stuff that doesn’t work quickly, the voters will be okay with it.
When you think about it, most very successful people had little or no experience before getting into their business. Make a list. What did Gates know about large software businesses, or Jobs about communication, or Bezos about virtual retail, or Rockefeller about oil, or Ford about cars. Not much. Some of them invented their niche.
Experience is over-rated in things where a development process should deal with change or novelty.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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