Obama: A Model for Change in Organizations – and in America

No matter where you are in the world, or what part of the political world you align with, tonight was a historic night for America. In that respect, it seems appropriate to update and republish this post I first wrote on March 21:

The Machinery of Hope

Rolling Stone: The Machinery of HopeBill Ives commentson the recent Rolling Stone cover story The Machinery of Hope, which explores how the Obama campaign has built an unprecedented grassroots operation – one that many organizations can look to as a model for using enterprise 2.0 tools. Ives says:

…use of donation sites, web sites, and blogs is web 1.0 and web 2.0. I feel what Obama is doing is enterprise 2.0 since the tools support those within his campaign’s organization or enterprise.

It seems to be that this is different from what has been done before in political uses of the web (as the Rolling Stone article suggests) and it is consistent with his message of considering everyone part of the enterprise that he and his campaign are trying to build.

In light of this, they are giving their enterprise participants the tools to help build the enterprise themselves and empowering people to make more decisions.

Set it Loose

The Rolling Stone Article profiles Adam Ukman, an Obama campaign worker on a visit to train precinct captains in San Marcos, Texas:

“Our job is not to run in here to tell you how it’s going to be,” Ukman tells them. “This is your campaign. Not our campaign.”

He knows that there is literally hundreds of years of organizing experience in the room — all he needs to do is set it loose.

This is the key: when you recognize that people already have immense potential to do great things, you need only give them the right tools, and get out of their way.

When you do that, as Obama has, here’s what happens:

In the process, the Obama campaign has shattered the top-down, command-and-control, broadcast-TV model that has dominated American politics since the early 1960s. “They have taken the bottom-up campaign and absolutely perfected it,” says Joe Trippi, who masterminded Dean’s Internet campaign in 2004. “It’s light-years ahead of where we were four years ago.

Tonight, that campaign clinched Obama the Democratic Nomination for U.S. President.

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