Friday, July 23, 2004

Can politics be Lean?

Can politics be Lean?

Politics don't interest me a lot.  So it says a lot about my level of boredom last night that I would pick up a magazine and read an analysis of last January's Iowa Caucuses. 


Imagine my wife's surprise as she walked though the room and I exclaimed to her "Gretchen, this is FASCINATING!" 


She rolled her eyes and said "I suppose you found something about Lean in that article." 


Yep.  It was an article about Michael Whouley, whom I'd never heard of and apparently most people have not.  And he is credited with single-handedly steering John Kerry to a crucial win in Iowa, which led to Kerry winning the Democratic nomination.  And he did it in a mere 2.5 months.  It's a long article but a few things jumped out at me that illustrate lean principles:


·         Document Reality.  Whouley insisted on a tough, rigorous system of counting Kerry support levels.  He railed at puffed up numbers.  As such, he knew just what support his candidate had. 

·         Discipline to stay Simple.  He had a simple strategy and enforced it strictly.  This simple discipline enabled volunteers to stay on task. 

·         Speed and Focus beats Size. In the face of millions of dollars thrown at this campaign by Howard Dean's seeming juggernaut, Whouley steered a team a tenth the size of Dean's to a clear victory.  Because he knew what reality was and linked this to a simple strategy, rigorously applied, he wasted none of his precious personnel or funding...all of it delivered value.


All of this made me think of my friends at Wiremold and what they did under the equally significant leadership of Art Byrne from 1990-2002.  And it struck me how these principles work.  In such a variety of places. 


I hope this is helpful.

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