For each of the last two big political decisions made by the UK I was not there. This is more coincidental than it is conspiratorial I hasten to add. It is true that I missed both the Brexit referendum and last week’s general election in person since I was travelling in the US for business…but it is also true that postal voting is a great idea! Maybe inevitable is a better description than coincidental.
I have also stopped predicting outcomes of big political decisions…whether they are in the UK, the US or anywhere else for that matter. This is not big loss – I don’t think I was ever any good anyway at making political predictions in the first place – but I have stopped nevertheless.
I was certain I knew what would happen in Brexit…and last November in the US, and last week in the UK. Now I am certain I have no idea. I have opinions and preferences but I have zero predictive capability.
In reality this is no surprise. There are many topics associated with our work in which I have a great deal of experience (and even some level of knowledge and understanding)…and yet I would be lying if I said I could tell you what will happen next. So how or why would I expect to be able to predict outcomes in national or international politics?
I thought about all this last week…and not just for the obvious reasons. I was in the US meeting with colleagues on the East Coast – we were discussing strategy…where we are, where we want to get to and how do we get there. Lots of opinions, ideas and options. Much debate and discussion. Passion, conviction, disagreement and teamwork. Strategy requires a vision of the future, but it also requires that future to be achievable and compelling.
A compelling vision does not have to be guaranteed – but it does have to be engaging, exciting, and alluring…maybe just out of reach. A future I feel compelled to want to touch…achieve…be part of…help deliver.
And hence that juxtaposition with politics. A similarity in wanting to predict the future with some degree of confidence. That and the fact that every other conversation I was involved in last week seemed to feature some or all of the following words Comey, May, Trump, Corbyn, Senate, Parliament…at least once if not four times a day!
Someone once said that the public in general prefer a simple lie over a complicated truth. Seems right to me. Maybe for business (as opposed to politics) we should to include one extra letter – we prefer a simple line over a complicated truth.
Predicting the future…or even just predicting what happens next, or how to change what happens next…is complicated. If it was simple then we would all do it all the time. We operate, live, vote and participate in complicated and interdependent systems and situations. Any action has multiple outcomes. We all know that. There are seldom simple answers. We all know this.
And yet simple answers are what we like. We all do. In work, at home, with friends and with families.
Last week – and the work done in advance – required us all to engage in detail and to consider what we wanted, needed and expected. This is not easy but it is important. And it benefits from seeking, hearing and understanding different views and experiences from different people.
We make decisions – strategy is making decisions.
And the more informed our decisions, the more engaged and involved we are…the more we influence what happens next, and the more we create our own compelling future….