The tactical objective is clear: get into the car and out of the driveway by 750am. It supports the overall strategic objective of arriving on time to the mission objective: camp. But there in the middle of the living room stands the child, wearing only one sock, his shirt far too big, his hair a shock-and-awe mass of unkempt curls, his hands turning a Matchbox car while he studies it intently. It is now 745am.
“Child,” I said, “where is your other sock and why are you not entirely dressed to leave?”
“I don’t know.”
“Child,” I said, “the socks were together. Put down the car and go back to where you started.”
We did not achieve our tactical objective that day.
It occurred to me, as I watched Child put on his other sock, that his ability to achieve our strategic goal of getting out of the house was limited by his inability to make several decisions in a row without supervision. He is 7. He has a good excuse.
However, I am finding that adults are suffering from the same problem when it comes to achieving strategic goals like electing a government official. In order to vote on legislation for example, one has to understand the entire contents of a bill. The ACA, at over 900 pages, was an epic of poorly, hastily written policy AND no one was going to read it.
But what if we gave people an algorithm to follow: a flow chart of what to look for while researching their vote? What if we required congress to present the information in a more consumable way so that the average layperson could assimilate it and ALSO have enough time to decide what they preferred.
In the project management world, we ask the stakeholders how and at what frequency they prefer to receive their communications. What if we, as the country’s stakeholders, demanded that congress limit their legislation to a single decision and then publish the votes on those decisions?
If the end goal is to elect an official we feel would be best-suited or the job, we have to remove our emotional, intractable ideologies and actually look at our candidate’s work history. We’d do that if we hired any employee. Why not do that for our elected officials?
The average human makes decisions based on no more than 5 or 6 factors. Highly emotional people may make a decision based on a single factor. Lately, it seems like the entire country is standing in the living room wearing one sock because there are far too many other distractions to get through the 5 or 6 tactical steps that facilitate the strategic objective: electing a good leader.
“Child,” I said, “what are the steps we must take to get out of the house by 750am?”
“Dress, eat, brush teeth, get our lunch box, go to car,” he answered.
“And you got lost at ‘dress?'”
“I don’t know.”
And there you have the average American voter, knowing the objective, but not how to reach it.