After months of endless campaign ads and debates, it’s finally here – election day. No matter your political ideology, it is important to get out and exercise your right to vote today. Looking back on this long and oftentimes painful election, let’s take a few lessons that apply to the business world.

Stay positive. 
Nobody likes those negative campaign ads.  Nobody. When the candidates start
taking shots at each other it makes us all – well, disappointed. The public
responds much better to the ads where the candidates state their views, their
plans for the future, talk about their experience and why they deserve your
vote. Similarly, it’s not good business to take shots at your competitors – you
will make your customers (and employees) disappointed.  Talk about what your company has done to be successful, why you are a great place to work, and why you deserve your customer’s business. Be inspiring. Be bold. Just don’t be negative.
Spend your money wisely – and base decisions on data
I am glad I don’t live in a swing state – I can’t imagine how many ads they are
seeing on a daily basis.  But, that’s where the candidates need to spend their money – their teams have reviewed the data and determined where they need to be in order to win more votes and win the electoral college. It’s a focused strategic attack. What data is your company looking at to determine your strategy?  Where do you need to focus? Do you need to overcome a rising competitor in a certain sector or geography?  Do you want to grow a new product line to be first to market? Regardless of your product or service, you should know your audience, know what key metrics you need to be looking at to ‘win’, and spend your budget dollars in a strategic way.
Stay true to your message.
I may not agree with a candidate’s views, but I need to know what they are.  When candidates start changing their message to try to make themselves appealing to everyone they are actually making themselves appealing to nobody. How can we support you if we don’t know what you stand for? 
State your platform, and stick to it.  Same with your company –what is your
mission?  What are your core principles and what are your strengths? It is far better to develop a loyal following of customers who support your message/service/product than to try to be everything to everyone.  Stay true to your customers and true to yourself.

Surround yourself with great people.
Every candidate has strengths and weaknesses, and they strive to build a team that is full of smart, dedicated people that help them overcome their weaknesses and complement their strengths.  They put their campaigns in the hands of these people – they need to have the best. Just as importantly, they need people they trust to represent them and not have an ill-prepared statement that is going to end up on the 6:00 news. When building your management team, particularly for smaller, growing companies, you are putting your company and your personal reputation in their hands.  Have a good understanding of your weaknesses and seek out talented people who have those skills to round out your overall team. Choose experienced and driven people who will represent your company well and help you to create a strong vision, strong employees, and strong customer base.

Create a well-oiled machine with a customer focus.
A presidential candidate cannot know every single thing happening in every state and every town.  They develop an overall strategy with their team, put strong people in key positions to oversee each area, and also have strong people ‘on the ground’ to get the job done.  Good campaigns take a local approach to their overall strategy and put detailed plans and processes in place to make their campaign hum.  As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local” and it becomes even more important to create a personal connection with voters in an increasingly electronic world. A company needs to have an overall strategy, with tactical plans and processes behind them.  Putting strong people in your key
positions and aligning all your departments to a common goal help you create a
well-oiled machine in your operations. It also empowers your employees ‘on the ground’ to know their role in the overall organization and allows them to focus on your customers creating a personal connection that will win their loyalty. Focus on your operations, create a well-oiled machine, and your employees and your customers will be happier for it.

Debbie Millin is President/CEO of UpperLevel Solutions - a Boston-based firm offering part-time and interim COO services, operational assessments and executive project leadership.


11/07/2014 12:54am

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