By Dave McKeown, President of Predictable Success
Note: This is in no way meant to be an article about politics. (I’m an Irishman and can’t vote in the USA anyway!) It’s merely a good example of how any group of two or more people trying to achieve common goals struggles with the same issues.
Donald Trump may have won big in his home state of New York this past week, but there’s no doubt his campaign has hit Whitewater. You see, it’s not just businesses that go through the Predictable Success lifecycle – it’s any group of two or more people trying to achieve common goals. As this article from the British paper The Guardian will soon demonstrate, the Trump campaign is going through all the common signs of Whitewater.
How the Campaign Got Here
Up until now the Trump campaign has been led by the typical Visionary / Operator model that’s so successful in the growth stage of ‘Fun‘. Trump’s at the helm as the (Arsonist) Visionary and Corey Lewandowski as his massive, big dog Operator. Together they’ve built their campaign on delivering consistent quality (winning primaries and delegates) in the face of relative simplicity (so long as he was racking up delegates it was a simple end goal). Trump was succeeding, he was having ‘Fun’.
Now he’s in a convoluted arithmetical position trying to wrangle delegates from non-straightforward places (Colorado) and understand the GOP’s equally convoluted rules to avoid or win a contested convention. This has brought complexity to the campaign and tipped them forward into Whitewater.
In the same way a business going through Whitewater needs a Processor to overcome complexity and get to Predictable Success, so, too, does Trump’s campaign. Consequently, he has brought in a veteran at wrangling delegates, Paul Manafort, to bring “an organized, methodical effort to woo delegates”, in other words – as his Processor.
This ultimately causes a conflict between the Operators of the past, who want to stay in Fun, and the Processor, who’s wanting to bring scale to the organization and lead it into Predictable Success.
The aforementioned article echoes many of the common themes of going through Whitewater and how they are playing out in the Trump campaign:
1. A turf war between the big dog Operators and the newly brought in Processor. “Much of the campaign [is] devolving into a turf war between the newcomer and longtime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.”
2. A conflict which leaves veterans of the campaign longing for ‘back in the day’ and, in particular, the close knit feeling of the Fun stage. “[Of course there used to] be conflict, Corey would scream at someone, maybe you’d succeed, maybe you’d fail – but it was “familial”.
3. A disdain for the new-found bureaucracy. “…the campaign has become embroiled in conflict and discord. As one source put it, when it was just Lewandowski in charge “you knew exactly where you stood. It’s f***ing politics now.”
4. Long-time big dogs from the campaign are leaving as they can’t abide by the new way of working. “On Monday, longtime Trump aide and Lewandowski ally Stuart Jolly left the campaign. Jolly, who was the campaign’s national field director and a decorated Gulf war veteran, resigned after a campaign reorganization meant that he was going to be forced to report to Rick Wiley, a Manafort appointee.”
And probably most importantly for the camp:
5. A requirement for the Visionary to put aside his Visionary needs and mature into the leader the Enterprise requires. “The fighting within the campaign has not just been about personalities. Instead, there has been basic conflict over whether the campaign’s longtime mantra of ‘letting Trump be Trump’ should be replaced by turning the unconventional insurgent into a traditional candidate who gives policy speeches off a teleprompter and acts ‘Presidential.”
What to Expect Next
So what should we look for in the weeks ahead?
1. More high-profile departures including potentially either Lewandowski or Manafort. This all depends on the path Trump takes. If he returns to ‘Fun’ with Lewandowski, Manafort will become marginalized and leave. Or, if he moves toward the path of scalability, Lewandowski may determine the campaign has ‘lost its soul’ and he can no longer abide by the path.
2. Trump’s internal struggle between scratching his Visionary itch and seeking a path to scalability. This will be most evident in his public appearances. If he’s acting more ‘Presidential’ at that moment, he’s choosing the path to scalability and adopting the Enterprise Commitment. If he goes back to name-calling, slander and blaming a ‘broken system’, you know he wants to return to Fun.
What should Trump do?
There’s no doubt that if he wants to win the GOP Primary, he needs to go the path of process, the path of winning the obscure delegates and methodically contesting the convention at the risk of alienating his core. I suspect the gravitational pull of his loyalty to Lewandowski and Fun will be too much.