David Burney sent in this great post about President Obama. He reminds us that Obama’s earliest days were spent in community organizing in Chicago. That means that he gets the bottom-up approach to understanding issues and problems and to solving them. We all need to keep this in mind as we navigate this uncertain and fearful era. A designerly approach based on a clear understanding of the people in need and their culture is the beginning for all solutions, from education to energy.
“Since the earliest days of his campaign, it is clear that President Obama possesses a genuine understanding of design and open source thinking. He is a gifted communicator who aligns perfectly the form/media of his messages with the content he’s delivering. His principles, words and actions are in sync. When he speaks of ‘bottoms up’ problem solving, he ‘gets’ it far beyond intellectual and competitive theory arguments. I’d say that’s a good set of attributes to describe the ‘designer’ of the future.
So, while Bush was our first MBA president, I think it’s fair to claim Obama as the first, modern ‘design thinking’ president. I can only assume his work as a community organizer helped him realize the deep cultural underpinnings that are necessary as a platform to put collaborative innovation/tranformation to practice. But collaborative design cultures are fragile. It is hard for the chickens to collaborate with the fox. Or with his news channel. (I couldn’t resist)
It’s hard to overstate the obstacles that real change will face. When I worked at Red Hat (for most of the past five years) we coined the term ‘colloberation’ when referring to participants more interested in forcing others to ‘collaborate’ with their agenda than any authentic collaboration. I’m reminded of that term now as I watch the Republican leadership desperately attempting to position the new administration as arrogant, partisan and non-collaborative.
This new form of collaboration works. The open source software development community is a wonderful example of the value, speed, efficiency and competitive advantage radical collaboration can ignite. Open source demands transparency, freedom, authenticity, commitment and courage. Roger Martin’s book— The Responsibility Virus— offers a great recipe for how to apply it in more traditional organizations.
We should not be fooled into thinking any of this will be easy. It will be hard work. But it certainly feels great to be optimistic again!”
What do you think of David’s comments?