I scratch my head at how most pundits are saying any remaining campaigning will be purely about Hillary and Barack's personality differences. (I heard David Brooks say that again this" target="_blank">http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/">this morning on Meet The Press.)
Do they really think all that's left is a horse race over the likability factor? I know both campaigns are putting time into driving up their opponent's negatives, but - in an election season where so many voters want America to go in a new direction - there is so much more to discuss!
But I guess I have to give the members of all those "best political teams on television" a bye on this, because - unless you've been exposed to the science of cultural and organizational transformation as I have been - then you will be totally blind to the true experience issue of this campaign.
While I'm as interested in personalities as anyone (especially since George Bush's massive personality issues regarding his relationship with his father contributed to his coming close to driving America off a cliff), I urge all the pundits out there to explore the issue of what kind of experience makes change that creates a truly new direction (ie a transformation) possible. Because if they do, they will discover a huge story waiting to be reported.
It's a story of (a) how Bill Clinton was taught the science of organizational transformation when he was governor of Arkansas, (b) how he implemented that science statewide through Arkansas' local chambers of commerce, (c) how he ultimately gave up that knowledge and experience when he became president, and (d) how, on the surface, it would appear that he never shared that knowledge and experience with Hillary when he was governor, which means (e) Hillary is blind to the knowledge and experience required to create the kind of transformational change the voters want and that America needs.
Oh.. and the pundits would also discover there's this parallel story: that Barack may just happen to already know these transformational principles... that they may actually come to him naturally.
Since I know much more about Bill Clinton's story, that's what I'll stick with here. Without "writing a book" about it, here it is:
When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he was introduced to the advanced management philosophy known as Quality Management (sometimes called Total Quality Management, or TQM) by Dr." target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myron_Tribus">Dr. Myron Tribus.
Dr. Tribus was from MIT and worked very closely with Dr." target="_blank">click here W. Edwards Deming, considered by many to be the father of quality management and a man who was sent by the US government to Japan after WWII to help the Japanese rebuild their manufacturing industries. While not popular in the USA after WWII because America's industrial leaders thought they already knew everything they needed to know, Dr. Deming's methods were ultimately used by American industry starting in 1980 to recapture market share lost to the Japanese, after those methods were brought to their attention by the NBC TV documentary "If" target="_blank">click here Japan Can, Why Can't We?". (Some of you may recall that in the 1970's the quality of Japanese products was so high, that many US companies were losing market share to them big time. This documentary explained that this was largely the result of the Japanese learning Dr. Deming's quality management principles.)
What did Bill Clinton do with the knowledge Dr. Tribus taught him? He created the Arkansas Quality Management Task Force, a program of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. This task force created training programs that worked through local chambers of commerce to create "learning communities" - partnerships between government, business, and non-profits to improve the social and economic health of entire communities. You can read more about this here" target="_blank">click here , and you can read an article by Dr. Tribus about what came to be known as Community Quality Councils here\. br" target="_blank"click here/a />
I know this story because I became friends with Dr. Tribus in the early 1990's through my volunteer work with the American Society for Quality, where I was a member of (and, at one point, the chair of) the Community Quality Councils Committee. You can read more about the great stuff involving quality management and governments nationwide that was happening back then here\. br" target="_blank"click here/a />
Unfortunately, when Bill Clinton became president, he didn't advance the use of Dr. Deming's principles across America as he did in Arkansas. There was an effort that sounded like it was TQM-based ("Reinventing Government") but wasn't. And, at the Democratic Leadership Council annual meeting where I actually got to talk with Bill for a few seconds, he said "I've supported that for a long time." when I thanked him for giving a great speech at the Baldrige" target="_blank">http://www.quality.nist.gov/">Baldrige National Quality Program's annual conference. But supporting the Baldrige Program is trivial compared with what Bill could have done.
The Clinton administration didn't take the real lessons from Arkansas - of the value of creating learning communities that are partnerships between government, industry, and non-profits - and apply them to America as a whole. The US Chamber of Commerce would have been the perfect vehicle for doing this, just as local chambers were in Arkansas. When the history of quality management / Dr. Deming's work in America is written, perhaps Bill Clinton will explain what happened to his commitment to these principles and why.
In fact, the one nationwide effort that Bill Clinton launched that, in my opinion, had Dr. Deming / TQM at its core - was a real learning and partnership community - vanished just as its work was ready to take off: The President's" target="_blank">http://clinton4.nara.gov/PCSD/">President's Council on Sustainable Development. This is another great "untold story" from the Clinton administration... and one that could have transformed the whole basis of Al Gore's 2000 campaign.
So, where was Hillary while all this was going on? Well, all you have to do is look at the secretive, top-down, non-team oriented process she used as First Lady to develop her national health care plan to know that she never learned Dr. Deming's principles from Bill. I wonder if Hillary even knows what TQM stands for. Either way, she sure didn't use its principles then. And - given what I observe to be the top down nature of everything she does these days - I don't see any evidence of her using those principles today.
Why Bill didn't share all he learned from Dr. Tribus - and all the good works of the Arkansas Quality Management Task Force - with Hillary is something I'd like to ask him some day. (And if he did share it with her, then I'd like to ask him why she never used those principles after he explained them to her and showed them the good they were doing state-wide.) This was a massive effort throughout Arkansas that was celebrated at quality management conferences around the country. But Hillary either didn't know about it, knew and didn't care, or knew but didn't recognize the significance of what she was seeing.
(1) Continuous learning and improvement, (2) knowing that mistakes are okay because that's the only way to learn, and (3) partnering with all the other players who will support the resulting plan most strongly if they feel they helped create it. These are some of the core principles Dr. Deming taught... some of the core principles of quality management.
Now, when I think of Barack Obama's campaign... his background as a community organizer... and how he sees what we need to do to succeed in the future... it sounds to me as if he knows these principles already. That's the feeling I have. I don't have the inside story on what Barack has learned that I have regarding Bill, but my gut tells me that Barack knows this stuff.
I'll see if I can get an answer from his campaign about this. If they tell me anything, I'll let you all know.
In the mean time, I hope all the reporters and pundits out there will take what I've written as food for thought... and know that there's a lot more to cover in the contest for the Democratic nomination than just personality differences.
Voters deserve to know how Hillary and Barack will go about giving them what they are promising to give them.
When it comes to setting a new direction for America, "How" is just as important as "What".