I caught an American current affairs talk show from Sunday, Meet The Press. I was intrigued by observations from ‘presidential historian’ Doris Kearns Goodwin.
I found the transcript online (you’ll need to click on viewing more text at the foot then scroll down quite a way). What fascinated me was the parallel with solution selling in needing to demonstrate progress on a deal.
The discussion was about how a weak Obama could turn his poll fortunes around. Ms Goodwin sounds an ally;
You know, the incredible thing is, in 1934 FDR was in a similar condition with the economy.
People were saying it hadn’t recovered, that the economy was still stubbornly high unemployment … it was 20 percent;
yet, he persuaded the people that he was moving forward, he showed them where the successes were, and he gave them confidence in the future.
He won the midterm elections in 1934.
The message was clear. Show forward momentum on a deal and you’re more likely to prevail, both within vendor politics and buyer signatures. She then stunningly shared her insight on the (unwinnable?) war with yet more parallel tips;
On Afghanistan, we don’t have a sense of any kind of progress over there, which is a real problem.
Again, going back to my buddy FDR, the reason he invaded North Africa in 1942 was he had to show progress.
Eisenhower didn’t want him to do it, Marshall didn’t want him to do it … and Marshall finally later said, “I didn’t understand in a democracy the people have to be entertained.
Again, are you stalled on a deal? What can you do to try and show progress? Both for your internal and external audiences? She offers hints for Obama on his imminent hustings:
Why not have the police guys out there, the firefighters, the teachers, visually show the success.
He’s got to prove that the stimulus worked where it did work.
He’s got to prove that the bank bailout is being repaid by interest.
He’s got to prove the positives of health care, and he’s got to go into the districts, show the energy he did in the auto thing.
He was great there. He should just do that again and again.
Could you benefit from Doris’s thinking on your team?