Within this bitterly contested presidential campaign are at least three valuable lessons for anyone who wants to win by becoming the favorite choice in their market. This race is probably the most high-stakes, expensive, and intensive experiment in nudging human behavior to attract money, votes and influencers to sway others to give either. It has involved real time and other analytics, profiling, mobile outreach, and uneven attempts to out-label themselves and each other to create a narrative that sways the most voters.
Soon after today's election we will know the results in this new kind of high tech/high touch showdown that combines both data crunching and other technology with in-person events that the candidates raced around the country to attend. What we can also learn from this costly campaign are concrete ways to win in our world of work and civic life. Here are three, and I'd love to learn yours via comments at this column:
One: Label yourself before someone else does.
Make your slogan so vividly specific, believable and brief that it's repeatable. As well, respond quickly. If you are going to go negative, attempt to be witty rather than mean-spirited. Of course the line between those two qualities is in the eye of the beholder. Romney said Obama's slogan, "Forward" should be "Forewarned." Earlier in the campaign, Romney was criticized for using a catchphrase once used by the Ku Klux Klan, "Keep America American."
One lesson for public figures, including business leaders, is that rapid, quotable and credible responses to critics and competitors are vital and expected in our new New Normal world.
Two: Know someone who is a data analytics genius if you aren't.
Because they had to, American soldiers and medics in Iraq and Afghanistan who went through battles together, improvised along the way about how to make decisions, share leadership or provide emergency care for an IED-hit comrade. In a less dire yet also tense way, social media experts, from the data analytics teams to the mobile outreach quants, have evolved new ways to reach potential supporters better and faster. Those teams have a ticket to ride after this election, even if their candidate loses. They have learned that much and have bonded through battle. So have many of the predictive analytics firms that are helping us interpret voting patterns.
Every organization should have a tight-knit team with the social tools expertise to optimize stakeholders' participation and success with and for the organization. That team should be a core part of their operations, either in house, or under contract, or in a partnership to jointly serve a niche market.
With many political prognosticators predicting not only a close race in today's election but into the future, it is no wonder that both candidates have been spending millions on sophisticated data gathering to identify, reach and appeal to key voter, often through people they already know and trust. I know, first hand from my work, coaching many of the ambassador teams for the Obama campaign that the level of data crunching sophistication has rapidly evolved even in the past months. This is a wake-up call for the majority of companies -- and government agencies -- to employ the power of analytics, mobile outreach, cloud efficiencies to secure more and better involvement with their key stakeholders for making closer to real time changes in how they serve their "market."
The highly motivated and diversely-talented individuals on both political campaigns pulled out all the stops they knew about to use technology, nudged by a critical deadline: election day. Yet, many corporate leaders are blind to the deadlines they face from their "opposition" their competitors. The day of reckoning form them isn't an election day but rather the day a competitor, perhaps one that was not even serving their kind of customers, employed apt analytics and other social tools to create a differentiating benefit that enables them to quickly dominate that market.
A key takeaway for your business or other kind of organization is to act with the fervor of a political campaign, without the bombarding advertising messages, of course. As an entrepreneur or an enterprising employee, look everywhere for organizational models that scale innovation and see if you can adapt their structure to your profession or market sector.
See, for example, the scaling innovation structures inherent in Quantified Self that has engaged individuals so efficiently in large self-monitoring studies that it now spawns startups and attracts partnerships with organizations as diverse medical device firms and university research centers. And look at Code for America that, in my view, is scaling e-Government innovation faster than most other non-profits, consultancies, associations or government agencies. Other examples of technology-supported, scalable growth are the shareable-based businesses sprouting up from car sharing to AirBnB. These innovative structures serve as another wake-up call that competition can hit harder and faster in our increasingly complex yet connected world, and so can opportunities. Become an opportunity maker to capture them.
Three: Become a Sought-after Opportunity Maker.
Hone your skills at connecting the dots to create or adjust your organization structure to scale it. Some of the most valuable people in both campaigns weren't the big donors but the engines that fueled the flexibility in rapid response so needed in a campaign and in business today. They looked for trends, and fresh ways to partner with other organizations. They pulled in support faster, often because they spoke to the sweet spot of mutual benefit when enlisting participation rather than taking the more traditional, "Please do this for us" approach.
Like Richard Branson, Cory Booker and others, prove you are adept and open to co-creating opportunities with and for others, for your political campaign, or your business, cause or even government group. Here are just two ways you can cultivate this Opportunity Maker approach to stay relevant and sought after:
1. Craft a purposeful narrative as Peter Guber suggested in Tell to Win. Connect the dots of a situation in such a way as to sway others, as Bill Clinton and others did so successfully in characterizing Chris Christie's support. Describe the situation and play the role that pulls relevant, much-needed others players into "our story" because, once they hear it they want to be a part of it.
They are moved to re-shape it so they can play a significant role in it. It is in their enlightened self-interest to do so as Obama's unexpected new best side-kick, Governor Chris Christie, demonstrated when the two of them comforted people in New Jersey who's lives have been torn apart by Sandy, jointly reassuring those individuals, often with the TV cameras running, that they would get help.
Part of that purposeful narrative for Christie is that he finally got to be on stage with Bruce Springsteen.
2. Create a place where others want to participate
Another way to win votes, sales, support and/or allies is to create a "hook" as Frans Johnsson dubbed it in The Click Moment. Create an online platform or community, enticing physical space such as an Apple store or co-working place or an app. A hook is anything where others can hang their complementary idea and/or improve yours, receive money or other resources for contributing, or simply show their affiliation and gain bragging rights by sharing news of the hook. One of the most recent hooks is Chris Rock's widely viewed pitch to vote for Obama because he's white, a clever rather than mean-spirited spoof on the coverage of the racial divide in voting.
As an individual and for your organization, hone these three skills to not only create and maintain a winning edge in your market but also to savor those successes as can only happen when tight-knit teams of disparate talents grow smarter and closer together through those shared wins.
Looking back on my life so far, those team experiences, where we really depended on each other and had each other's backs, have been the most rewarding. When Clayton Christensen famously asked, "How will you measure your life?," I thought of these experiences and I hope these three approaches lead to a similar benefits for you.