What we can all learn from Donald Trump

August 15, 2016

By Brickendon CEO Chris Burke.

For the first time in many years, the US election has innocent bystanders transfixed. Whether by choice or simply by association, the events of the 2016 election campaign have taken much of the world by storm. Why? Because it is not like any other.

Donald Trump has struck a chord with the western world, saying that he will fight for them against ISIS, immigrants and the rich and this, so it seems, is what they want to hear. He has played the people’s representative role so beautifully that he, a man who inherited his fortune, has succeeded in positioning himself with many as the man who will take on their fight against the elite. Moreover, his use of the aspirational phrase  ‘make America great again’ has allowed him to  tap into large parts of the electorate who like to reminisce of better times and see the tough years since the financial crisis as the ones they would rather forget.

So instead of viewing Trump as an ignorant buffoon as many commentators already have, we should be considering what we in the financial services sector can learn from him. How can we take what he has done and apply it the challenges we face in our working lives?

I for one like to view Donald Trump as political disruptive technology. He has offered something different and shaken the political industry up substantially. He has provided a new way of dealing with challenges and by not adhering to the politically correct norms he has shown that things can be approached in a different way. This will not only change the current election, but by showing such a strategy can attract a large number of voters, it will change the political parties offerings as they try to attract these people in the future. Within our working lives we too need to look for radical solutions to problems which can turn things on their head.

One such solution would be testing in production. It is so radical and so fraught with concerned faces when mentioned to IT and business stakeholders that it could easily be ignored. However, it is a solution which would drastically reduce time-to-market for new improvements for the customers we serve. If solutions such as those developed by Brickendon were adopted, the implementation costs and competitiveness of our clients would drastically improve.

Trump has used the media to perfection by, at little cost to his campaign, constantly saying outlandish soundbites that have drowned out any other voice in the contest. During late May 2016 both he and Hilary Clinton were running events on the same day. Three major US networks covered his event live and none covered Clinton’s despite the fact that Trump had already secured the Republican nomination. Again this is something we can all learn from when positioning our programmes for our clients for internal funding. Ensuring we are meeting both the needs of our stakeholders and the needs of those providing funding can deliver rapid benefits to our clients. Our Brickendon roadshow packs are designed to highlight the programme benefits to a wider audience and not just those involved in the programme.

Furthermore, Trump has, from the outset, set the tone of what he wanted to discuss and has refused to be thrown off track by someone else trying to set the agenda. How often as change professionals have we run a meeting or an event and seen someone try to change the topic or focus? Whilst Trump’s technique of shouting over people and hurling abuse is not one I would encourage, we can still manage the agenda and keep people on topic. By using our basic PMO techniques and setting clear guidance on meeting agenda and topics ahead of time, we can politely avoid any additional topics to ensure our meetings remain focussed on the job in hand. In the event of extremely senior stakeholders changing the agenda during a meeting, we can alter the topic to suit his or her agenda and postpone what we wanted to cover until another time.

Trump, it seems, is a force that is not going to go away. He has shaken up the political classes and has been resolute in not allowing his agenda to be moved. Whilst his techniques may not be something we would like to emulate, his ability to keep the spotlight on his project and gather the momentum needed to deliver his aims are something we can all learn from.

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