29 June 2011

Strategies and Presidential Election - Bill vs Steve ?

Under a democratic and clean government and in a society with law and order, like Singapore, the strategies for politics and business could be very similar.

Singapore shall be holding the election for a President very soon and this provides learning lessons on strategies and principles.

Principle 1 Election is a love affair between the Candidate and the People.

It is not a War Among the Candidates. This is what I said in Business as War is Half the Truth. The most direct and main concern is with the People. The competing Candidates are the indirect, secondary, not primary, reference points for the People. Hence Sun Zi Arts of War the trickery part may not and should not find ready application here. We will come back to this in a future post.

Strategy 1 The Common One: What do the People Want? The Bill Method

Since people is the primary target, the most common strategy is to find out what the people want. Ask the customers says the Market Researchers.

This is a good strategy as demonstrated by Microsoft. Most people may think that Microsoft is an innovative company. Yes it is. It is an incremental innovation company. It almost perfects the arts. Microsoft is seldom first and those that he was first it flopped e.g. Do you remember Bob - An easier to use Office suite? But Microsoft is great at replacing the leaders. Microsoft Excel replaced the leading spreadsheet program Lotus-123 then (who actually replaced the 1st spreadsheet killer application known as Vasicalc. If you know Vasicalc then you and I belong to the same generation). Microsoft Word replaced WordPerfect which replaced WordStar. When the browser war started, most people were expecting Netscape to replace Microsoft. Microsoft was so late in the game, even wanting to come out with their own proprietary network when the world was going for internet. But it took only IE 3.0 to replace Netscape as the leading browser. Of course, Microsoft had its market size and other strengths. The Window Interface was started at Xerox Palo Alto, adopted by Apple in Macintosh and further extended by Microsoft in Ms-Window. By Window 3.0, Apple was less than 10% of the PC market and was almost erased from the world except for the return of Steve Jobs. You can see how good Microsoft is at catching up and replacing the leader. Will this happen again in the Smartphone world? That will be another subject.

Coming back to the strategy. If you are good at making increment improvement, good at execution, good at scaling, good at delivery, have a good backing, have a long term record, then by all means, follow this strategy of understanding customer needs, peek into the competitive offerings and then coming up with your better than others offering in the eyes of your beloved customers, I mean, People. This is a safe strategy but almost everyone are as good as it too and the existing and old party supported candidates have a longer track record and reputation and other advantages than the new starters.

Strategy 2 The Breakthrough Strategy -Who would the People Follow? The Steve Way

People vote for leaders that give them what they want. But they will vote and follow the leaders they admire with their heart and all! Steve Jobs' track record has not been asking the customers what they want because customer can't tell what they don't know. He believes in leading, giving and convincing the customers what they should have. He bring into existence innovations that customers never even dream possible or at the very least, for the future oriented customers, making their dreams come true. This is the inspiring Leadership.

This is my wish of a President. Someone who can look beyond us, take the lead, and inspire us to become what we should and could be. One such leader is Martin Luther King Jr - "I have a Dream!" - breaking the present norms and bringing people to a better world. Here I like to describe in greater details:

Leadership of Height, Depth, Length and Breadth
  1. Height: Our leader should be able to stand at a higher plane than us so that he can bring us to a better place. Einstein says "The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

    Height is about being able to stand above the circumstances, think above the line to take positive actions rather than trying to blame others and give accuses; being able to overcome obstacles and challenges.

    It is positive and optimistic. It response creatively rather than react negatively to challenges. It is about courage and boldness to stand up and be independent of the crowd. It is about innovativeness.

  2. Depth: At the same time, he comes down to our level to understand our problems and to be one of us. Yet, he is able to go even deeper to find the root cause rather than look at the superficial and the symptoms only.I It is about intelligence and insights. Seeing things and making things work. Depth see the root causes. Height provides the innovative breakthrough.
  3. Length: He is able to see beyond the present, and look into the future. He is able to give us a dream and paint a clear vision for us to be inspired and to follow. It is about the ability to seeing things before we even notice it. Worry before we do and then be happy after we are.
  4. Breadth: His heart is wide to be able to accept and appreciate and hold at the same time, the diversities of viewpoints, priorities, opinions, desires of the people.

    He go one-step further to integrate them for a win for all. He does not use threat to stop people from having different opinions. On the contrary, he believes in diverse opinions because the greater the diversity the better is the solution.

    The greater the participation, the better the solution and the greater the support for the implementation. He love rather than he fear. He draw out respect and willing support rather than force people to follow them out of fear. Fear results in minimum standard of achievement. Love surpass the minimum requirement.
When you have your ideal president model, then perhaps you can rank the present candidates accordingly and pick your choice.  I will pause here for your reflection and will continue with a future post.

Next Post: Strategies and Presidential Election - Bill vs Steve Part 2

Lim Liat copyrighted 29 June 2011

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