Friday, October 06, 2006

Maverick Prescription for Political Success

Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company, and Fast Company senior editor Polly LaBarre just published a ChangeThis article that describes the changing state of business leadership and asserts that the only companies and leaders that matter are those with the guts to be distinctive and disruptive.

Their advice applies just as equally to politics -- and presents a strong prescription for the Democratic Party, as well as for individual Democratic candidates.

Their main message is: you can't do big things (in any field) if you're content with doing things a little better than your rivals (or in the case of Democrats, a little worse).

The 10 questions that Taylor and Labaree present to put that message to work form an excellent springboard for developing political strategy (and coincidentally overlap with some of the most chronic policy and political weaknesses of Democrats):

1. Is there a distinctive and disruptive sense of purpose that sets you apart from the competition?

2. Can you be provocative without provoking a backlash?

3. If your (organization) went out of business tomorrow, who would miss you and why?

4. Are you the kind of person that other smart people want to work with?

5. Can you make innovation fun?

6. Do you treat different (stakeholders) differently?

7. Why should great people join your organization?

8. Do you know a great person when you see one?

9. Does your organization work as distinctively as it competes?

10. Are you learning as fast as the world is chaning?

I should point out, sadly, that very few Democratic political candidates, campaigns or organizations that I've worked with could provide a satisfactory answer to even one of those questions. (In contrast, one of the reasons that former Democratic Virginia Governor Mark Warner is so highly regarded in informed political circles, is that his marks by these measures are off the charts.)

Who can use this list?

1. Candidates -- as a self-assement and strategy tool for yourself and your team.

2. Political organizations, from local to national -- both as a self-assement and strategy tool for yourself, the candidates and organizations under your umbrella, as well as a tool for assessing potential recruits for yoru ticket.

3. Primary and General election voters -- one set of criteria (among the many needed) to evaluate candidates.

The article is worth reading in its entirety. Click here for Taylor and LaBarre's full article, "A Manifesto for Mavericks".