Would anybody want to run a business the way we run our country?

Joint Session of the United States CongressFrequently political candidates run on a campaign of running  government more like a business.

Presumably they mean things like more accountability and focus on results, as opposed to, say, accounting scandals or taking risks that put the country’s whole economy in peril.

Lately as I follow news out of Washington, from the fiscal cliff to the massive budget cuts called sequestration, it makes me wonder if anyone would think it’s as good idea to run a business this way.

Imagine:

  • You’d really like a new job and the way you apply is by publicly bad mouthing the person who currently has the job and/or half the people who will be your coworkers if you’re successful.
  • Before you’ve started the new job, you frequently talk with authority about knowing what it will take to get the job done. If once you start the job, you gain insights or information you didn’t have as an outsider, admitting you have changed your mind will get you branded a flip flopper. This is not a sign you are open minded or learning as you go. It is grounds for dismissal.
  • You aren’t pursuing an autonomous job, but one where the only way to succeed at the thing you’re being paid to do is to build consensus. However, compromising could lead to losing your job.
  • Have you ever had a job where you reported to more than one boss, so it was confusing whose instructions to follow or who would evaluate you for your raise? Try having millions of bosses, most of whom have never done your job and who only pay attention to bits and pieces of how you’re doing until it’s time to decide if you should get fired. Many of them only care about certain pet projects and will consider only your work on that, not your overall effectiveness.
  • The business is set up with no CEO who has ultimate decision power. Instead, it has three separate branches of management and each has the ability to undo certain work done by the others.
  • No matter how complicated the problem you’re trying to solve, it’s treated as if there are only two ways to approach it — one way you and your allies believe is right and the other way, which you vehemently decry as wrong.

Have you ever encountered a problem on your job that really only had two possible solutions? Even if you’re organizing a going away lunch for a coworker, you have more than two choices.

And in my experience, finding middle ground and compromising is the only way most things get done. Digging in your heels generally brings everything to a halt, so even when you’re absolutely certain you’re right,  it’s unproductive. Likewise, even when you deeply dislike the other person, it’s more effective to take a deep breath and find a way to work together.

Isn’t that how most businesses expect you to behave?

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Categories: career

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  1. Can we treat our country like the first Thanksgiving dinner table? – Newvine Growing

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