Commentary

Twist Of Fate: Obama Demonstrates How Businesses Should Operate

Why can't governments operate more like businesses? In a twist of fate, the White House now is demonstrating how businesses should operate. Including online.

This was evidenced, perhaps more than anywhere else, at 12:01 p.m. during the Presidential inauguration, at  www.whitehouse.gov/blog. Yes, the White House now has a blog! I subscribed to in my Google reader. Did you?

Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House, explained: "Millions of Americans have powered President Obama's journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country's future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement. Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first."

Phillips detailed three priorities:

Communication - "Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions."

Transparency - "President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that's just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President's policy priorities."

Participation - "President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the Internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it."

Community. Transparency. Participation. In these times of great institutional distrust, pessimism and drifting purpose, those are the core tenets of advantage and progress. They're critical for government and equally as much for business. It's how you create and engage citizens as well as customers.

And those tenets are especially relevant to our business of marketing and media. Which begs the question: Why are they so often blatantly absent from all the products these industries manufacture? I can't figure it out.

But Obama? Indeed, it's too early to celebrate. We'll have to wait and see how -- or if ---the President delivers on his promises, including his new-media commitments. But I can assure you one thing: He's at least launched on the right foot, embracing the openness and potential of the Internet. He's demonstrating, so far, the right way to set up an organization, treat his customers, and use the Internet to enhance relationships.  

What do you think?


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3 comments about "Twist Of Fate: Obama Demonstrates How Businesses Should Operate ".
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  1. Larry Czerwonka from happinessu, January 24, 2009 at 2:54 p.m.

    Time will tell, we were hoping for better government communication when the Clinton administration touted a more efficient government, we even put environmental documents on-line--not as stale PDF files for download but interactive documents with links and more importantly the ability for anyone to make comments. Our reward for doing all this was to have all our funding cut. We were too open. We let too many people from the public participate :(

  2. Richard Monihan, January 24, 2009 at 5:10 p.m.

    As an avowed skeptic of all things generated by politicians, I find the raging Obamania rather frightening.

    The things you mention Obama is "bringing" to the White House are good. IF he actually brings them. I remain skeptical. We've heard all this before. Bush said he'd do it, Clinton said he'd do it, Bush, Reagan, Carter....yes, we've heard it before.

    Why am I to believe Obama will actually do these things? And if he delivers 1/2 of these things - say better transparency and communication - how am I to actually believe that what I am seeing is real?

    This is not a skepticism grown from Bushphobia. This is real skepticism from undelivered promises of years gone by from BOTH parties. Neither Reid nor Pelosi delivered on their promises, but claimed victory. It's rather absurd to heap upon Obama such lofty expectations.

    Would I LIKE to see these things? Sure. Do I expect them? Absolutely not. And when you imply that Obama is showing businesses how to operate better, you imply that businesses are not operating well now. This is incorrect. The vast majority of companies remain well run, and in good shape, relatively speaking. We tend to overemphasize the impact of a few highly publicized failures as examples of how business in general is working - this is wrong.

    In the long run, business will ALWAYS be better run than government for a variety of reasons:
    1. They answer to a more demanding audience, shareholders (sorry, voters tend to be poorly informed and apathetic...and horribly misled most of the time)
    2. They MUST create and produce (government is a dead weight loss to the economy always and everywhere)
    3. While politics occur inside the offices of companies, engaging in politics publicly will kill business...but engaging in politics is what government does, and thus is inefficient.

    I reserve judgement and am yet to be impressed. I won't subscribe to a blog. Pravda was a blog.

  3. David Thurman from Aussie Rescue of Illinois, January 26, 2009 at 7:18 a.m.

    If O is running the Gov like a business, then why not see some wage cuts, forced retirement (too many old politicians that have no clue) and start laying off the excess in the public sector. The Government is the biggest money waster there is, have more vacation time then anyone, have the best medical (why is that?)...

    Please, enough with all the manical praise of a man that hasn't done anything for IL when he was in office, why would I expect something for the US?

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