Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blogging Around: Context for Trump Watching

Like many, I have been bemused by watching our new president actively launch himself into fulfilling campaign promises. Bemused on many levels, I might add.

I'm not among the outraged because I really don't understand the implications of everything that is going on and keep waiting to see what happens in the long run.

With that in mind I appreciated discovering Scott Adam's blog. He's the creator of the Dilbert cartoon and views pretty much everything with a businessman's eye. He's got a fascinating take on President Trump's tactics. Here are a couple of posts that made a lot of sense to me.

The Persuasion Filter and Immigration

If Trump is a Master Persuader, as I have been telling you for over a year, he just solved his biggest problem with immigration and you didn’t notice. The biggest problem is that his supporters on the right want more immigration control than he can (or should) deliver while his many critics on the left want far less. Normally when you negotiate there is only one party on the other side. But in this case, Trump is negotiating two extremes in two different directions. It’s the toughest possible situation. Best case scenario is that 40% of the country want you dead when it’s all over. Not good.

So what does a President Trump do when he is in an impossible situation?

According to the Hitler Filter, he does more Hitler stuff, such as being more extreme than anyone expected with his recent immigration declarations. That filter accurately predicted that he would be “worse” once elected. Sure enough, his temporary immigration ban is more extreme than most people expected. If things never get worse from this point on, we would have to question the Hitler Filter. But if things get worse still, the Hitler Filter is looking good.

Compare to the Persuasion Filter. This filter says Trump always opens with an extreme first offer so he has room to negotiate to the middle. The temporary ban fits that model perfectly. On the immigration topic alone, both the Hitler Filter and the Persuasion Filter predict that we get to exactly the point we are at today. Let’s call that a tie in terms of predictive power. The hard part is predicting what happens next.

The Persuasion Filter says Trump is negotiating with his critics on the extreme right at the same time as he is negotiating with his critics on the left. He needed one “opening offer” that would set up both sides for the next level of persuasion. And he found it. You just saw it.
My husband had been speculating on a version of "the persuasion filter" for a while (without calling it that). It was interesting to see how Adams talks about it. Read it all here.

Is President Trump Doing Management Wrong?

It appears that Trump’s counter-persuasion for “chaos” involves framing his administration as “disruptive.” That’s a good persuasion move because it doesn’t deny the observations. A disruption looks a lot like chaos from the outside. Two movies on one screen. ...

Is being a bit messy a sign of a problem?

Not if you’re the entrepreneurial, disruptive, candidate of change who just got elected.

Let me explain another management concept that the pundits don’t understand because, generally speaking, they don’t have the right kind of education or experience to analyze a business process.

There are two basic styles of management. One is the cautious style of Fortune 500 companies. The other is the rapid-iteration and A/B testing style of entrepreneurs. Trump is bringing the latter style to the office. The markers for this style of management include:

1. Rapid and decisive hiring and firing.

2. Bias toward action.

3. Rapid A/B testing. Release the early beta version and judge reactions. Adjust accordingly.

4. Emphasis on the psychology of success. Entrepreneurial management includes lots of persuasion and bullshit because entrepreneurs have to fake it until they make it. In other words, they have to create demand via persuasion.
Again, this gave me a lot to think about. Read it all here.

Presidential Podcast

My favorite way to put things into context is to look at history. The Presidential podcast ran once a week up to the last election, covering our presidents in order. It's only half an hour long but gives unusual takes on our past leaders, for example looking at Lincoln's writing and Grant's letters to his wife. It is eminently even-handed and always has a connection to our own times.

It is a wonderful reminder that President Trump is not the first leader who's come in sowing chaos and confusion. We've had it many a time before. Sometimes knowing that is context enough to make it easier to sit back in calm bemusement.

Here's the website or you can get it from iTunes.

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