Trends, Futurism, and Research

    Domain Knowledge Matters Donald Trump

    trump-presidential-announcement-2015Call me king of the obvious but I’d like to remind folks about something related to leadership, innovation, and the upcoming election.

    Domain Knowledge Matters

    I’m not taking political sides here but I’m going to make a point about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Let’s face it he has captured the attention of a large group of people. This is factual — the polls have him leading the GOP field.

    My opinion on why he’s doing so well is this: Trump says things that are bold, straightforward, non-PC and they echo the sentiments of many Americans. People love this approach because it’s just not what they’re used to hearing from a politician. I’ll put aside the notions and accusations that he’s racist, intolerant, inconsistent, and egotistical — others can make those arguments. In my view those issues mask something more obvious and more important.

    My point here is that people respond to the fresh and different voice they are hearing from Donald Trump, but his ability to speak in a fresh way does not mean he’s qualified to be President.

    Donald Trump doesn’t know enough to be President. He has scant knowledge of things that are essential to running the most influential country in the world. Creativity and innovation in leadership means making new connections, improving old approaches, and creating new approaches. Donald can’t combine what he knows now with what he doesn’t know about government. That kind of creativity requires domain knowledge. He can’t connect the dots.

    I’ll give Donald Trump credit for many things. He’s a shrewd business person. He’s created things, big impressive things. He’s pragmatic and he solves thorny problems — in the domains of real estate, hotels, resorts, and entertainment. He’s an amazingly savvy media manipulator. He’s an exciting speaker. He’s decisive, and in his sphere, clearly, a good decision maker. Overall I’d rate him a very intelligent and effective man, and a brilliant entrepreneur.

    But that doesn’t mean he’s qualified to be President.

    People seem to think that an outsider would do better in Washington, that an outsider could somehow sweep in and get a lot of things done. Wouldn’t that be lovely, but it’s not likely. Don’t get me wrong, I think an outsider with no direct experience in government could possibly do something great in Washington. But that person would have to know something — a deep level of something — about government and that which surrounds government.

    What I’m getting at is domain knowledge matters. Donald Trump lacks domain knowledge and/or experience in several crucial areas related to running a government. He doesn’t know how to get things done in that sphere, in that domain.

    You can’t do what you don’t know. I can’t fly a jet airplane even though I’m also a smart and decisive guy. Neither can The Donald.

    What doesn’t he know?

    Trump does not know history, and therefore he would be doomed to repeat it.

    Trump does not know military strategy or tactics — he’s never served, nor is he a student of the making of peace or war. I don’t hold it against him that he sought, and received, medical and student deferments for Vietnam. JFK spared us from World War III in the Cuban crisis because he understood, in detail, the ramifications of “decisive” action. He did not press the button — against the advice of his experts — because he was not only decisive, he was wise. Wisdom requires Domain Knowledge.

    Trump does not know law (except regarding how to dodge it/leverage it with strategic bankruptcies) or the constitution. No degrees, no courses, no papers, no articles — how can he defend the constitution if he doesn’t know it?

    Trump knows business, and, his path to success was filled with many failures.

    Trump’s knowledge of the economy is highly questionable — his ideas expressed thus far reveal nothing about how he would “make America great again” — other than immigration reform. How does he plan to grow middle class jobs? How does he plan to stimulate manufacturing? Immigration reform alone will not grow the middle class (it might help, but then again, it might harm growth). It’s interesting that on Trump’s website there is only one position paper, on Immigration reform, and it’s riddled with highly debatable ideas and quasi-facts. It’s a fact that the growth of Silicon Valley and USA high tech in general has been fueled by immigrants. Trump would do well to read George Gilder’s Microcosm if he wants reality (actual facts) related to immigrants and the economy (Ronald Reagan was a huge Gilder fan by the way). By the way, Trump’s grandfather was a German immigrant named Drumpf. His mother was an immigrant from Scotland. His current wife Melania Knauss is a recent immigrant and new USA citizen. I mention this because his family took advantage of the USA’s open arms to create a new identity and life. More power to them — and why shut the door behind?

    A President, any President, needs to start in office with abundant knowledge of history, the military, law, economics, and the workings of government. He cannot rely on advisors, entirely, for what he doesn’t know. Domain knowledge matters in doing any job effectively and it is a requirement for leadership and innovation. Stumbling into something you don’t know usually means you make classic mistakes. Applying the domain knowledge he already has would work best if he knew more about what he was applying it to. 

    Fresh voices and perspectives can assist with leadership and innovation in government, but freshness alone won’t do the job.

    To be effective you need Domain Knowledge to guide a transformation in government, and to-date, Trump has shown a lack of what he needs to know to do the job.

    So, enjoy the fresh voice, but when you start casting votes please consider Domain Knowledge — or lack thereof.

     

     

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    Three Sad Innovation Lessons From Radio Shack

    Keep Punching, Stay True to Yourself and Trends, Make Things The demise of Radio Shack., it’s depressing. Much like Kodak you read the history of events and can point to several ideas not done that could have saved them. You can also point to many ideas they tried that were clearly the wrong bets. Hindsight is better than foresight, but still, if they’d stuck to their original values they might have survived. Radio Shack substituted short sighted management tactics for real innovation and invention and that’s ultimately what killed them. They lost the sense of who they were as a company and that led them down a lot of innovation blind alleys. A once loved brand in consumer electronics, and a

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    Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Speaker

    Four Criteria for Hiring an Innovation Keynoter Let this post work as a guide for meeting planners. You don’t have to hire me as your innovation speaker, but if you hire one, you’ll be well served if you pay attention to these four criteria and my comments in bold. Innovation is a complex, wonky topic and it has some special requirements that go beyond the classic things meeting planners look for in a speaker. Let’s keep this simple and as neutral as possible — my shameless personal plug is at the very bottom. I’m even going to suggest my competition here. So here goes, in my view an Innovation Speaker should: 1. Have a background as a successful entrepreneur and/or

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    Rural Broadband Necessary for Rural Innovation

    Tuesday– September 23, 2014 It’s nice to see that people are recognizing that innovation isn’t always in Silicon Valley. Writing you today from the countryside in Three Oaks, Michigan, aka “Michiana” — where my poky web access is satellite based. Steve Case’s article earlier this week in the Washington Post  – Why innovation and start-ups are thriving in ‘flyover’ country –  is spot on. Case, you may recall, was co-founder of AOL. He correctly identifies the reasons why Chicago, Denver, Cincinnati, and other smaller cities are becoming vibrant centers of start-ups. He’s asking for investments of time and money to be made in order to further the trend. I agree, and… He didn’t go far enough with his article — he missed one

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    Big Imagination is Blind Spot Remover

    Coming back from a trip to Toronto (visiting with the amazing Min Basadur) I spotted an interesting billboard at O’Hare airport. IBM suggests they can help “Remove the Blind Spots from Your Business” — by using Big Data and analytics. The visual of a man at a kind of virtual desktop that has visibility to ships, trucks, retail, and factories indicates that if you can just know more about what’s going on out there you’ll have nothing to worry about. If only that were so. I’m not bad rapping IBM here, I’m sure they can indeed provide lots of interesting insight using Big Data and analytics. Many companies would be well served to do a better job with this. Using

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    Let’s Tax the Boy Scouts

    Do you belong to a Credit Union? Many Americans do, about 97 million to be precise. A large number, although Credit Unions represent only 6% of financial transactions. I’m posting about credit unions because these beneficial organizations are under attack. The link to innovation is profound — credit unions are how many people establish their financial base. People with a financial leg to stand on are the kind of people who start businesses and fuel the economy. Have you ever heard the phrase “building up a stake?” You can’t start a new company, or even a family, with nothing. One must have at least seed money, or more, to get a start-up going. Credit Unions are a great way for

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    Yes, I Tweet a Bit (Innovators Use Twitter)

    I was just named as one of the Top 50 Innovation tweeters by Innovation Excellence. A tweeter is one who uses Twitter. It’s a fairly informal sort of top 50 list — I don’t think there is a great deal of analysis around content or reach, but still, it’s nice to be recognized. I crossed the 10,000 follower line about a month ago, and weirdly, it felt like a real accomplishment. Then I saw that my friend and colleague Dr. Cindi Burnet (@Cyndiburnett) is over 50,000 followers and I didn’t feel quite so glamorous. And, you get out of Twitter what you put into it. I’m happy with my results at my current time-investment level. 10,000 feels like a “very

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    The Value of a “Cross Domain” View

      Dr. Orin Davis (@DrOrinDavis) has written up two more short pieces — essentially his reflections from the talks of Rebecca Henderson and Dan Pink at the recent World Innovation Forum. His comments on Pink are somewhat provocative, so, be aware I do not share Orin’s views exactly. Orin is a well read academic (and practitioner as well) and he knows a lot about the wide array of literature that exists for creativity and innovation — that’s why I’ m publishing his insightful work here. His critique of Pink is interesting to me because I was not aware of who Pink borrows from, and, if he is borrowing faithfully to the original research. That said, I think there’s a real value for people

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    Trayvon, George, Fear and Creativity

    It’s all about Fear. I’m of the belief that fear is the opposite of creativity. Fear leans towards the darkness in our souls. Creativity leans towards the light. Creativity is high order thinking, fear is not thinking, it’s letting our lizard brain dictate our action. Fear is the hidden truth in what happened with the Zimmerman sentence and the Martin murder. Some would question, now, my use of the word murder when Zimmerman has been acquitted. I’m sorry, but George is responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin. He put himself in that position, he fired the weapon, in my view he’s responsible. George Zimmerman was operating from a fundamental place of fear. He could have chose differently. Fear is

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    Report from World Innovation Forum

    My good friend and colleague Orin Davis, Phd is covering the World Innovation Forum 2013 and I’m pleased to post his reporting here. Dr. Davis has the unique perspective of a bona fide psychology and innovation researcher, see his website here for more on his interesting work. Orin has worked directly with the famous Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of “Flow” — suffice to say he not only knows Mihaly, he can pronounce his name properly! Here he comments on PepsiCo’s Mauro Porcini’s talk at WIF. Stay tuned to this blog for more posts on WIF 2013. **** PepsiCo’s Mauro Porcini packed a lot of great information into a one-hour talk, but one of his key points was that design-driven innovation requires a focus on

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