David Plouffe was responsible for creating and overseeing one of the world's largest start-ups ever. Even though it was a political campaign, there are so many amazing lessons for business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs. I will be writing several columns about The Audacity to Win over the next several weeks.
In addition to my own interpretation, I was fortunate to interview David. I'll be sharing much of our conversation shortly, but I wanted to first share David's top 5 business lessons.
WARNING: We had poor reception on the call. My team here did their best to transcribe it, but there may be a word here or there that is inaccurate. In any case, the message and genius is still all David. Enjoy!
Robert Pagliarini's Interview with David Plouffe (12/07/09)
What are the top five business lessons and tips you learned from running the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign?
It's just the usual caveat, that every situation is different and so everyone's challenge and opportunity, resources, strengths, and weaknesses are different. But I think there are some general principles:
- The first is to have a very clear theory about how you're going to be successful so that you can make all of your decisions around that.
- Secondly, to have great interaction in person so that everybody is important to you, your employees, your customers, and your shareholders, if that's appropriate. Understand what your strategy is so that they understand how they fit into it. I think, if you're asking people to contribute their time, their money, their talent, and their career, they obviously have their own individual jobs they do, but my sense is they will do a better job if they understand how it fits.
- Three, if you're trying to reach people, and most people in business are, you've got to be in every avenue possible. You just can't be on TV anymore. You also just can't be online. You've got to try to reach people, human being to human being. You've got to try to reach people through television and radio. You've got to reach people online. You've got to reach people on social networking sites, and what makes that harder is you just can't be in those spaces. Your communication has to be in alignment. You can't have your television advertising message differ from your internet strategy. You've got to step back and say, are we congruent in our efforts in the message, whether that's about your brand, your product, or service.
- Another thing would be to have clear metrics so that your evaluation, both of your overall performance and the performance of your employees is not subjective. And how are these metrics understood? So that when you're doing an evaluation with an employee, you take as much of the subjectivity out of it as possible. And by the way, if you've got people in your organization where you can't apply metrics to them, they probably shouldn't be there.
- And then I think to basically be unafraid to chart your own course. Even if that course is questioned by others and not fully understood because I do think in all enterprises, if you're just following old pathways or with a slight adjustment, maybe you'll succeed in the short term, but it's hard in my view, to envision someone like that getting a foothold over time.I think you've got to be willing to chart your own course and not be afraid to fail. That's very common advice, but it's true. We were not afraid to fail, and I think if you're willing to go out there and chart a new course, maybe a ground-breaking strategy, and you don't succeed, you lose not because you screwed up, it's just because, hey, there wasn't a marketplace for it. I think the people who really, really succeed are all those who are willing to color outside of the lines a little bit and think of things that haven't been thought of before, and that gives you the greatest upside I think.
There is so much more to share about The Audacity to Win and David's experience. As you're planning for 2010, keep these tips in mind. They are rock solid-whether you are helping to elect a president or if you're starting a new business.
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