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Those who know me - and think well of me - often say I am a good "connector," in sociology parlance, or an excellent networker, in business development terms.
Others less close to me say, "Is there an event or a reception that this guy doesn’t show up at?"
That said, earlier this week I attend two events. The first was a reception at the National Academy of Public Administration celebrating the release of "A Government Ill Executed: The Decline of the Federal Service and How to Reverse It." The author is Paul Light of New York University.
Light's analysis deals with what our nation needs to do to avert such failures of competence and decision-making as the Hurricane Katrina response, including the toxic trailers; contractor mismanagement in Iraq; the sub-prime mortgage mess; and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center fiasco.
Want more examples? There’s the recent passport debacle; toys with lead paint; contaminated drugs; even the inability to trace poisoned tomatoes.
Prof. Light catalogs a comprehensive list of reforms and argues for a Hoover-like commission to develop comprehensive management reform recommendations that would then be subjected to an up-or-down vote by the Congress, not unlike the base realignment and closing process.
Light's title is based on Alexander Hamilton's warning in The Federalist Papers about malfunctioning government:
"A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill-executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government."
My second event was the Senior Executive Association Career Executive Leadership Conference. The luncheon speaker was Dr. Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University and author of "The Thirteen Keys to the Presidency". In an amusing and animated address, Professor Lichtman reviewed his unique forecasting system and used it to predict the results of the popular vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Behind the predictive "keys" and the model to which they are applied is a most interesting premise. And it should be noted that the keys he co-developed are based on the study of every presidential election since 1860. They have correctly predicted, well in advance, the results of the popular votes in each of the last six presidential elections. The premise is that what really counts is performance. What really counts is governance.
In other words, an election is really a referendum on how the existing administration has performed.
And so when you puts these two together the obvious conclusion is that the mundane matters of governance, operational excellence and of execution - in other words, of good management - are not so mundane after all.
Good management is not a second or third tier issue, or should not be, for a new president and his administration. Management is in fact one of the most important things that he will do he wants to succeed, and if he wants to be re-elected.
Yes, management matters!