Thursday, December 8, 2016

- Turnaround Nation

I'm recovering from my little medical procedure nicely, and though my bro feels awful, he's doing as well as can be expected. Even the awful symptoms he has right now are not terrible compared to the scope of possible outcomes. So we're all optimistic. Thanks for all the well wishes, both private and public. And since my brain is finally coming back online, I thought I'd take a moment to offer a quick reflection on Trump's cabinet picks.

Maybe it's just me thinking like a general who is "fighting the last battle" so to speak. My last job was a turnaround effort - taking an existing company and trying to streamline and improve its decision making, fix it's systems and organization and focus it's staff on the activities to make it profitable. And with my mind set there, it looks to me like Trump is planning on doing the same.

These picks look like a man trying to build a turnaround team. He hasn't picked people who "know how to play the game" and "get along" or who are influencers inside the beltway. He isn't looking for consensus builders. He's picked people who know their space and are respected, but are like him, not interested in keeping the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or National Review happy. He's picking leaders. Guys with vision. Guys who seem to me to be fully prepared to walk into their individual spheres and say "Yes, I know you did it that way before but the way we're going to do it now is THIS way, and if you can't live with that then your resignation is accepted and there's the door."

This isn't an instant recipe for success. The pushback in Washington at the rank and file level is going to be enormous and it's not an easy thing to change a culture of an organization. Also, if Audacious epigone can be believed, (and obviously I think he can) we're talking about the most reliably liberal group of people in America populating the halls of government. Telling them to work for a living let alone getting them to work effectively, may require setting a thousand guys with cattle prods to walking the halls. So success is not assured, but if you ask me, doing it any other way would certainly ensure failure.

When you take over a dysfunctional company, you never really know for certain who is capable but unmotivated (or being given poor direction) and who is simply incompetent. But it's an easy thing to figure out. You simply change the man at the top, empower him to pursue a real change in vision, and see who helps and who fights. You take away the existing process with it's existing rules, and those that can will adapt. Those that can't, are the people you don't want anymore.

I'm betting that the talk that Trump is having with his people is that he wants them to do the same to their areas as he is doing by appointing them. Shake it up. Produce results. Get numbers on the board. He's probably telling them to let him worry about the voters, all they have to worry about is him. And what he wants from them is results. The executive branch is finally going to have an actual executive. Not some 'go along to get along' Republican Judas Goat, Jimmy Carter style micro-manager, or a celebrity golfer in chief. We're getting a guy who wants to fix the single most dysfunctional and mismanaged organization on planet earth.

Can he pull it off? Got me. I've seen good guys fail at much easier tasks. The trouble will come the minute someone in the existing bureaucracy is seen as essential, in spite of their resistance to the new way of doing things. Then the problems will start. But for now it's looking like he's got the right people with the right ideas and the right will to actually change things up. And they all seem to be ready to ignore all the right people.

I'm hoping the first 100 days of the Trump administration can be best summed up by this fake Mad Dog Mattis quote that's been making the rounds:

"Teach a man to light a fire and he's warm for the night, light a man on fire and he's warm the rest of his life."

With any luck, we'll be able to see the bureaucrats burning for miles.

1 comment:

ikaika said...

Glad to hear you are doing well. I have been referring people to this post as it is the best representation of what the Trump admin represents and the rationale behind the cabinet selections.
AG: Sessions, Education: Betsy DeVos, H&HS: Tom Price, Transport: Chao (Mrs McConnell), Treasury: Steven Mnuchin, Commerce: Wilbur Ross (HUGE..err, YUGE!), Sec Def: Maddog (Krauthammer nailed this one: Imagine the Iranians being told in translation that if they don't cooperate Trump will turn the matter over to Mad-Dog...), HUD: Ben, Homeland: Gen Kelly (a shot to Mexico that we are serious about the wall and not all walls are physical). CoS: Reince (meh), Small Biz: Linda McMahon (I like this pick and it sends a stick up Connecticut's liberal ass sideways!), EPA: Pruitt (LMAO! up yours Al Gore!), NSA: Flynn, CIA: Mike Pompeo (good one), and now Tillerson (Exxon CEO) as Sec of State. Perry in Energy doesn't show me much, but the rest of the cabinet validates Tom's analysis.
This is a turnaround team being assembled. I would refer back to Trump's 1997 book: The Art of the Comeback. Surprised the pundits aren't referencing this...