NSL Blog

Hacking the success of the Obama campaign 2012

January 25, 2013

In No Straight Lines Chapter 8 states: if you want to create the future you have to hack it. From The Atlantic a great and compelling story of how a group of very extraordinary people worked together to create transformational change to run a complex campaign to help get Obama re-elected as President.

The lessons that present themselves are useful lessons for other organisations. There is a saying that purpose is the hidden leader, it seems clear without common purpose, a higher goal that all had signed up for – the radical re-design of the campaign tech platforms and their enhanced capability would never have happened.

We can draw further insights and lessons:

  1. How one deals with complexity (as there were some big complex challenges to overcome)
  2. How teams learn to adapt
  3. How being prepared to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things is vital
  4. That transformational change is hard work and you only get to the other side if the organisation is purpose driven
  5. Connecting meaningfully to ones community never to be underestimated
  6. Talent is everything and that it does not necessarily come in chino’s and a dress shirt
  7. Raw Data refined into valuable useable data is the black gold of the 21st Century

Last point is they did it, because they never gave up. The team sought a transformational answer to intractable problems; they were not satisfied with traditional orthodoxies and the limitations they put upon us. In No Straight Lines the last of 6 key principles is what I call being EPIC – the desire to seek transformational change.

Being Epic is about having the vision, the courage and the conviction to seek and implement lasting change, like Patients Know Best, or how Jamie Lerner transformed the ailing city that was Curatiba in Brazil. Being Epic requires individuals and companies to seek an entrepreneurial spirit; that entrepreneurial spirit demonstrates the ability to recognise opportunities for value creation and then be able to design innovative ways to capture that value. Being able to mobilise the necessary resources in a responsible and sustainable way, accepting the inherent risks and upfront personal investment involved and favouring speed in implementation. Being Epic means showing persistence and tenacity to convert great ideas into tangible results and the ability to implement them. Being Epic means acting proactively so that things get done, enabling innovation with practical intelligence, and seeking collaboration to get things done.

It does what it says on the tin

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