When you read this, I hope you have at least received your delayed return because the US government has shut down. But whoever first flashed to end the suspension (or maybe start it again) is the chance that another self-inflicted crisis is likely to happen between now and 2020 because Washington politicians do not remember how to work together.
This is no way to drive a "superpower". Americans are pissed off nationwide, and despite the president's insistence that America was respected again confidence in US leadership has fallen worldwide. Yet, the United States is likely to survive its embarrassing inability to drive the government's business – it's too big to fail.
We must desperately remember Patrick Henry 's declaration, "United we stand, we shared falls." What happens if factions within a company reflect the contradictions of political parties on what constitutes reality and complete lack ability to cooperate? There would be no way to run a business. Unity is as important in business as it is in the government, perhaps even more. Most companies are not too big to fail.
What color is the sky in your world?
If people can't agree on facts about a question, they can't come up with solutions. This turns out true in Washington where competing truth bubbles are frightening, as politicians try to support spin. As a nation, we have slowly built up a tolerance for lies.
But now the lie flows out of Washington with a fire hose volume and we have reached a point of crisis. At the end of the year The Washington Post noted that President Trump averages 15 a day in 2018 – nearly tripled in the 2017 average. Today, the credibility gap goes wider than ever before, making it almost impossible to solve problems.
Unfortunately, "false news " is not just a political phenomenon – it is also a problem in corporate governance and leadership meetings. And just as politicians often cite misleading statistics to make their case, business leaders are often guilty of cherry picking "facts" that put their department in the best light and blame others.
The culprit? Incomplete data or numbers taken out of context. Say a marketing team needs to generate 1,000 qualified leads so that sales can close 50 deals. The company comes up short in its sales targets, but marketing cites figures from its martech stack showing that it held up its end to the purchase. Then, the sales team gives a quick return with competing data from its Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) system, which supports the sales team's claim that "marketing leads were junk". Who should we believe?
The underlying problem in this scenario is that there is no shared reality, no credible dataset shared across the organization. To solve the problem of "false news", companies should put all their sales and market data in their CRM system. Otherwise, they continue to base action on competing versions of reality. And as we have seen from Washington, it is madness and dysfunction.
"Stronger Together" is More Than a Political Slogan
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or otherwise identified, history clearly shows that when people work together they can achieve more than they can separately. In a rare exhibition of bipartisan unity, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate worked together to surrender First Step Act a crime bill aimed at reducing recidivism and reforming federal criminal law – a bill Mr Trump signed in law end of last year.
The overwhelming support for the bill shows which political factions can do when they stop lying to us and to each other, gather around a common goal and cooperate to solve problems. Unfortunately, it was the invoice passage an anomaly; The parties remain divided and resulted in the longest government closure in history . The same applies in too many companies, where the departments work for cross purposes – and lose opportunities due to lack of cooperation.
Building a "stronger common" culture begins with understanding each other's different perspectives as well as your shared mission. In Washington, authors often put party politics over their common duty to lead people's activities. In business, departmental leaders often point their fingers to free themselves from the debt rather than collaborate to solve problems and focus on their true goal of creating value for the company.
"Skyllestans" can work in the short term – the manager might buy a law statement and hold another group responsible for a setback. But is that really what is important? Are we going to work to polish our image in the manager's eyes, or are we there to increase the value by generating revenue and achieving business goals? For most professional adults, it is later, and to really move the needle and achieve a business goal, cooperation is a must.
In our marketing and sales example, it is important for the two teams to get together and clearly define what a qualified management looks like and exactly how it is generated. The two teams must understand and respect each other's place in the value creation chain and agree on a set of metrics that indicate progress and a data source that is credible to everyone. Then they can work together as adults instead of feud as middle schools – or politicians.
The US political departments are real. Shared companies tend to divide into common lines that also reflect genuine disagreements. But true cooperation is defined by gathering different perspectives so you should not expect an era of kumbaya. If new and different ideas flow, a debate – even a heated one – on how to achieve goals is possible, even though everyone in the organization agrees with a single source of data integrity and fulfills its cooperation.
The necessary element In both government and business is a common sense of purpose and goals. Competing visions of how to achieve these goals are inevitable, but the faction is a choice. The gratlock in Washington reflects a glide in the faction – one predicted by George Washington and John Adams as they warned of the dangers of a two-party system .
The American democratic experiment is now being tested. Many companies treat a similar stress test for parallel reasons. The good news is that we have to choose our path every day. If your business has fallen into faction, it's still time to quit – make a reality check, recognize your common goals, and work together to achieve them. If our feuding political parties cannot show a good example, they at least serve as a warning list. It will not be easy, but it is necessary, because in your business failure should not be an option.
Published March 17, 2019 – 13:30 UTC