Rand Paul: Running Government Like a Business….Circa 1955

121120073505-rand-paul-story-topCongratulations John Brennan, today approved by a 64-34 Senate vote to become the next CIA Director.  Of course, Mr Brennan’s path to appointment wasn’t as easy as the nearly 2-to-1 vote would indicate.  Apparently more concerned about being heard and catering to a minority bloc, Rand Paul also proved he has amazing stamina in his 13 hour filibuster.

By radical contrast, next month TEDx Times Square is hosting a gathering of thought leaders “Openness: Exploring the Limits and Possibilities of Open Culture.”  Shocking to see our democratic form of government reduced to posturing and incessant competition between parties, yet enlightened business leaders move from the narrow confines of zero sum games to collaboration.  The popular refrain “government should run like a business” is a twisted joke in Rand Paul’s hands because the businesses that once ran this way have been decimated over the past generation, while businesses learned and adapted from practices that used to define how our three branches of government worked.

Unfortunately, there are managers who still continue to place a premium on their department and turf, each spotted by their desire to be heard rather than listen or engage meaningful dialogue.  (Undoubtedly, this group is printing up their Rand Paul 2016 campaign buttons right now.)  These managers will bully their way to organizational power and will typically have loyal staff, but ultimately their inability to work well with others brings this crashing down.  The toll it takes on the company is far greater than the inevitable loss of that manager’s job.  My experience is it takes years to (re)create a collaborative culture when managerial Rand Paul types prefer to stand on their agenda-laden soap boxes.

Most recently, I had to terminate an extremely talented senior manager from a company I work with because he could not constructively work with others.  As the comapny’s foremost subject matter expert in his discipline, peers would often ask him questions as a way to produce best outcomes.  This manager would field every question the same way: blasting his peer for stupidity and incompetence, self-promoting his brilliance, never answering the question, and then going to the company’s CEO to complain about working with idiots.  For too long his destructive behavior was tolerated because he was responsible for significant revenue.  But analysis showed the company would actually grow faster and more profitably if he were replaced by someone who worked well with others.

Given the direction they are heading in, yes, it would be nice to see government run more like an enlightened company, where collaboration, problem solving and respectfully professional dialogue commands the day.

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