Thursday, March 27, 2014

PC Parties in Alberta and Newfoundland: What Are You Baking?

If you're trying to create a company, it's like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion. - Elon Musk

As I watch the PC Parties in the Provinces of Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador prepare to choose new leaders while simultaneously trying to run a government AND prepare for an election where their grip on power is threatened, I can’t help but think of Gerald Weinberg’s Bread Recipe Rule:

If you use the same baker, the same ingredients and the same recipe, then you will always get the same bread.

The PC Party in each Province has learned in recent months that the populace has empathically expressed that they don’t like the “bread” that their respective governments have been churning out.

But as I watch the Party in each Province execute a critical course correction that will impact their respective Party and Province for years to come, I wonder if they are really ready to change or if they still haven’t gotten over the euphoria of having written a really strong rah-rah message to their supporters with the hope that that alone will carry the day.  With apologies to a lot of well-intentioned people, the messages “we always win” or “we know we are the best” don’t sit well with a data-focused guy.  Unfortunately, questions such as “why?” and “how do you know?” are inconvenient “hot potatoes” and so should be avoided at all cost.

Consider these components of the Bread Recipe Rule:

The Baker – from discussions shared with me, each of the respective Parties is looking for a leader with many of the same traits found in the two Premiers that were chased out.  There are also many hidden bakers that the electorate doesn’t see.  While these out-of-sight bakers need to be changed also, the likelihood of that happening is slim even though their role in choosing the last leader that failed and in not removing them before irreparable damage to the PC Party was done was significant.  This time it will be different, I suppose …. just because.

The Ingredients – while the PC Party ideology is something that resonates with many, there are so many variants of it within the Party that it is difficult for members to coalesce around a unified set of principles.  I recently asked some government members in each of the Provincial Governments why they felt Progressive Conservatism best served the people and they couldn’t answer the question.  If you don’t believe it (or understand it), you can’t sell it.  Period.  Maybe they are there not because they believe in PC principles but because a popular party served their own needs at the time.  Gasp … could people be so devious or opportunistic?  Surely not!

The Recipe – I have been assured that the people in the PC Party in each Province find comfort in the same strategy, communication mechanisms, optics management and execution that has worked so successfully in the past …. well, with the exception of getting their respective leaders turfed in the middle of disastrous approval ratings and the possibility of being out of power for years to come.  Other than that last little bit, it works pretty well.

The Bottom Line

To the PC Parties of Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador, I offer this thought.

While traditions of history and success are powerfully intoxicating, if strategic and tactical execution doesn’t change with the times, it starts to look more like this:

Tradition -

Your respective fortunes didn’t die in the last two years (or in the last few months) suddenly and without warning.  Just as a large ocean freighter needs miles to make a course correction or a speeding train may need miles to stop, this seemingly sudden decline was years in the making – years of not recognizing or adjusting to the shift all around you.

And if you don’t embrace the magnitude of the shift that is occurring within your respective Parties and within the electorate and if you don’t see what is needed to adjust to, embrace and maximize the opportunities present in that shift, you may not like the smell that your recipe is producing.

In fact, it may not smell like bread at all.

In fact, it may smell like …. hang on a sec …..  <sniff> <sniff>.

Hmmmmmmm …. is that REALLY what you want to be baking?

I didn’t think so.

So you have two choices:

  1. Adjust to the shift and find a way to create a win that serves the people as you honor the title of Public Servant.
  2. Get used to losing.

Choose wisely.

In service and servanthood,


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