A friend of mine recently shared with me a series of interviews conducted by the Washington Post featuring David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager. Interestingly, within the first 10 seconds of this one video, Plouffe is referred to as one of”the world’s greatest CEOs”
I take a slightly different approach by talking about Obama as a CEO in Barack Inc., but either way, the message is still the same. The Obama campaign wasn’t so much political as it was abusiness. It was effective because its leaders – Obama, Plouffe, andothers – understood that harnessing the collective power of constituencies was key.
Today, when companies and their leaders look at the Obama campaign, hoping to emulate it’s success, they have to understand just how strategic and multi-part it really was.
Some key things Plouffe highlighted in his interview that I think are important lessons for leaders:
1. Structure your team to scalePlouffe noted that there were thousands of volunteers who contributed to the campaign. In the winter alone there were 4800 houseparties assembled, all thanks to volunteers who were willing to helppromote the Obama message. In order for companies to have this type ofsuccess, they need to be able to trust their management to collectively rally employees. Similarly, they need to be able to trust their customers to help promote their products.
2.Give feedbackThere was constant two-way feedback given between campaign organizers and supporters. Moving forward, Plouffe acknowledges that many of these supporters are eager to move forward with the momentum harnessed from the campaign. However, things don’t move as fast in Washington. Plouffe says he and a team of staff will make an effort to make sure that much of what takes place in the White House will be as a result of what supporters have to say. Already, you can see this carried over on the change.gov site where citizens can submit questions for debate as well as brief Obama on the issues that matter most.
To see Plouffe’s full interview, go here.