Learn From the Strategies and Tactics of the Threatened Government Shutdown.

Apr 10th, 2011 | By | Category: abundance, Career advice, communication skills, government shutdown, negativity, opportunity, persuasion, strategy, tactics

This week the news media focused on the threatened government shutdown. Politics aside there were some great strategies and tactics employed by all sides to advance their goals. Soon you will see subtle variations of these strategies and tactics in the workplace. The political arena is the crucible where the art of organizational and personal strategies and tactics are developed and advanced.

The idea of the government shutting down was a bit of theatrics to focus attention on the budget stalemate. There are host of interviews with experts highlighting the potential impact of a government shut down. During a government shutdown all but essential services temporarily stop, but as we learned in the President Clinton era government shutdown not much detrimental happen to the lives of the average citizen.  After the shutdown, the effects on the country were analyzed and determined to have impacted all sectors, the major losses were lost productivity when the government paid in full all the salaries and benefits of the furloughed government workers. The effects of the shutdown were short lived and the economy zoomed to new heights. So the risk of a government shut down in real terms were more hypothetical than real. So in this face off all sides were confident that a shutdown would not have any long-term effects on the economy. In a word it was a ploy to gain attention for all involved.

Political strategies have several purposes. The main purpose is to build political capital and power for the party and individuals. Although the issues are real, the main agenda is not solving the problem, but advancing party lines.  If issues are completely resolved there would be little to build the tension between the parties and develop the political rhetoric that has been the staple of politics since the ancient Greek Senate of Plato and Socrates. Although strategies and tactics are attributed to the military, the practice of developing high-level and goal-oriented ideals is more deeply rooted in politics. By observing politicians in action you will learn from the masters.

One of the striking lessons from the political arena is the coining of words and phases to capture the public’s attention and condenses the message to sound bites. Words like stagflation from the 70s  Reganomics) from the 80s, President Clinton’s semi-clenched fist of the 90s, Voodoo economics of the 2000s. There are host of examples words, phases and gestures that sneak in and out of our culture without much conscious thought of where they come from. Effective use of the language is a main stay to any career.

The use of crisis to focus attention and take center stage is extremely effective tool when managed properly. I worked for a master of the art of crisis. He would pick an issue of little or no importance within his purview and propel it into the limelight until it became viewed as a major issue. The primary reason this worked was most people involved were not focused on this minor issue, and most did not have the inclination to investigate the actual impact of the issue, which was usually minimal. Using this strategy and the accompanying tactics enabled him to climb very high in the organization.

The use of a vehicle such as the national budget to reopen issues, which have been controversial since their inception, is also a strategy to refocus on issue that everyone realizes would be almost impossible to repeal. By attacking a controversial part of a program the public’s attention is focused once again on the controversial issue, instead of the real issue of balancing the budget. Both sides can make political points with their supports by attacking or defending the controversial part of the program with little chance the funding would be cut. Learning to create a crisis atmosphere over an issue of small or no importance is a skill that can be exceptionally effective and rewarding. Most people tend to down play the importance of issues they work on instead of embellishing them. Learn to develop urgency and importance related to your projects.

The public statements of politicians are carefully crafted to accentuate the importance of their view and the detriment of the opposition’s view. This is where the rhetoric takes on political spin.  If you listen closely to a politician speak you will notice there is little substance and the facts are usually distorted. There is also plenty of ambiguity, which enables the listener to pick the option that best suits their views. This is how two people can listen to the same presentation and have to totally different perceptions of what was said. Even when they quote the speaker to prove a point the ambiguity is only reinforced. Learning to speak in a manner that enables a variety of listeners to interpret the message in a favorable light is an art worth developing.

These are but a few of the attributes of the strategies and tactics employed in the political arena. Another presidential campaign is about to start. Already Donald Trump has resurrected the President Obama’s citizenship issue. Since President Obama has already served one term, it is non-issue, but it does get attention. Watch and listen to the candidates not only to choose one to vote for, but to learn the art of strategies and tactics to use in the workplace.

The PracticaL Mentor

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