Crisis management in the post-truth era

Keep Calm and Carry On
Anyone who has had to manage a group, a company, a department, a family, through a crisis situation, knows that there are two threads that you have to focus on simultaneously.

First (among equals), get things fixed! Stop the hemorrhaging, plug the dikes. So long as the crisis condition persists, the organizational unit’s prime objective cannot be carried out. In order to get back on track, the thing that is happening must be made to stop happening.

The second, which cannot be separated from the first, is to uncover the flaws in the structure that allowed or caused the crisis to occur, in order to stop it right now or to keep it from recurring.

These two missions may be carried out using completely different methodologies, teams, viewpoints, strengths. But they have to be done with a respect for each other’s validity and each other’s process. Both missions must be mindful of the prime objective and their relation to it.

In much of the current discussion among Democrats and other Trump adversaries, the focus seems to be on figuring out what went wrong. Worse, the language rightly used to “talk among ourselves” in that pursuit is being used to by this B-team to try to fight the A-team battle. We are taking critical, perceptual, analytical thinking, and the language that supports it, and using that mindset and vocabulary to wage attack on our adversary. We continue to point out the duplicity, the contradictions, the bad judgement, the poor taste, the inappropriateness, of the adversary, in public. But these are all the same things that we were doing before, which led up to the crisis we now find ourselves in. If the tools proved ineffective in the fight to win the presidency, what makes us think that they will be effective in our current counter-offensive? They will not be.

In order to fight the A-team battle, we need to use the language and tools of that arena. Those terms are set by the winner, not by the loser. We need to step out of our own comfort zone and look to the language of the arena we are in. We are in the post-truth Trumposphere. We have to stop applying rational discourse on the battlefield. Did Trump win on rational discourse? Did he win on having the best go-forward strategy? Did he win on a consistent message of hope and opportunity? Did he win on truth and honesty? No? Then why are we still trying to win by holding his feet to these fires?

If things are ugly in the outward fight, we may need to get ugly. If there is subterfuge, we may need to apply subterfuge. If there is deceit, we may need to deceive.

Is Trump really the Republican candidate?

Trump - Branson - Clinton
A recent Dailykos article captured Richard Branson’s reflections on two meetings, one with Donald Trump, and one with Hillary Clinton (Richard Branson: Trump said he would destroy those who wouldn’t help him after he went bankrupt). Very telling contrast, which we’ve seen over and over again over the last year. Well… most of us have seen it. There are still those who – bizarrely – fail to recognize Trump for what he is.

I do think however that it is counterproductive to refer to the two individuals (as this article did) as “the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.” While Hillary may well be the Democratic nominee, the Republican party (those that have balls), and almost all of the died in the wool Republicans that I know, feel that Trump has usurped the Republican party for his own platform. He has taken the name and run with it, neither understanding nor respecting what the party grew out of.

Sadly, the Tea Party did the same thing previously. Both of these movements have left the Republican party in tatters. It can’t even recognize itself any more, let alone have a commanding presence in the political arena.

I am a Democrat. A sort of independent-Democrat. But I totally depend on there being at least two parties in the national conversation. Without that, we’re too often talking to ourselves, patting ourselves on the back, thinking we have all the answers, and yet leaving wide swaths of answer undelivered.

There are always different viewpoints. The bell curve keeps coming up time and time again because on almost any subject, there’s a mass of people clustered around the middle, with fewer and fewer outliers in either direction. If the goal of a political party is to garner as much support for its position as possible, it would seem that a Democratic party that’s one standard deviation to the left of the center, and a Republican party that’s one SD to the right, would be about the right place to be.

As both parties – but particularly the Republican party – pick themselves up and dust themselves off after this election, it is my greatest hope that the leadership of both parties will consider this reality and try to position themselves once again to be strong, identifiable, cohesive forces, each with an agenda, but not so far apart that they cannot possibly reconcile on the issues before them.

From this perspective, we might still achieve much of the kind of growth the Republicans seem bent on, without losing the care and egalitarianism focus of the Democratic party. In the real world, we can’t afford to have clear winners, because that entails clear losers as well. We must always strive to do the best we can, for most of the people, and not leave any to be sacrificed to “progress.”