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Trump: Our First MBO Presidency

 

I’ll admit I get irked at times by Bill, Jonah, Charles, Kevin (you know who you are) along with others who still can’t seem to get their heads around Donald Trump, President. They are perpetually indignant over the President’s tweets and want to read utmost conviction into every single thing the Donald says. I find this amazing.

Unfortunate for these conservative pundits, they just can’t understand Donald Trump. Sure, they are used to dog whistle politics, quiet subterfuge, crocodile tears, grandstanding, legal word parsing, pretend ceremony, fake deference and duplicitous words. However, they believe that they can see through all this political interference and determine the truth. Except they can’t. They just know, from years of watching Washington politics, who believes what no matter what they say or how they say it. The fibs, outright lies, exaggerations and political legerdemain are still at play in Washington. But Donald Trump, he stymies them. What is he saying? What is that supposed to mean? They are lost. President Trump has them, well, trumped.

I’ve worked closely with a few powerful CEOs in my life. Most were like Donald, energetic, fun to be around, and quite willing to believe and say just about anything with obvious conviction to make a serious point or promote their venture. I was there to encourage them to paint their pictures within the lines; that is to not get too far ahead or away from reality. More than once, during an analyst meeting or in a meeting with investors, I had to interject, carefully, to pull some of the hotter hyperbole, back to earth.

These men are promoters. They are there to seal the deal, promote the company and move along the strategy. They are not securities law experts or even as intimate with the financial details of their own operations as they should be. They want to be the biggest, the best, the most successful and the most profitable. They live for superlatives and set extremely high goals. If you aim high enough, they believe, even if you fall short, you will still out jump the competition.

Politicians are not like that. Their motives are polluted with the retention of power. They are more clever than they are wise. They are as much concerned with making their political adversaries look bad as they are with governing. Political strategy is not about value or efficiency, it is about constituencies and votes. Politicians are actually considering ways to slow down automation and tax it. If that is not the best differentiator when considering the perverse motives of politics, then there are none.

Donald Trump has no appreciation for this kind of retail politics. He’s a business guy, through and through, our first management by objectives CEO, the MBO President. What does he want? Control over our borders. It’s part of his job description and he’s determined to achieve it. And he wants the world to take our leadership seriously. He wants to reverse the diminution of our military. He wants fair trade deals. He wants a simplified tax code with lower rates. He wants elections unblemished by voter fraud. He wants our multinationals to repatriate their profits from overseas. He wants free, open and vibrant health insurance and health care markets. He wants a judiciary that considers constitutional intent, not precedent, first when judging our laws. That’s about it.

OK, he did say he wanted to improve our infrastructure, however just how this would be achieved or funded was never addressed. I can only assume that this goal is on the back burner for now.

What is missing from this agenda? Two big conservative bugaboos: deficits and entitlements. Trump steered clear of these elephants. My take is this: if we tackle the stated goals above maybe then we can find the courage and wherewithal to tackle entitlements and deficits. Much depends on economic growth and the reciprocal growth in government receipts.

President Donald Trump is not an eloquent man. He’s a businessman. He doesn’t filter his words through ideology. His ideology is reflected in the goals and objectives he sets for himself and his administration. The idea is simple: move the country to a new place in the following ways, 1, 2, 3, 4… You can count them on your fingers and toes. If there are some things you don’t like, OK, oppose them. Trump is ready for practical as well as ideological arguments. If you are in the minority, you still have a chance. I direct you to the Freedom Caucus and the first attempt at Obamacare reform.

Back to Kevin, Jonah, Charles and Bill, don’t dismiss our president as un-serious just because he is abrupt or speaks awkwardly. Unlike politicians, President Trump is more wise than he is clever. Measure him by his objectives and how successful he is in achieving them. At the end of his four years, we will all give him his big HR review. It will be simple. If he’s been successful and wants the job, we’ll hire him for another four years. If he’s not, we’ll all move on. That’s the way MBO works.

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Members have made 108 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Doug Kimball: But Donald Trump, he stymies them. What is he saying? What is that supposed to mean? They are lost. President Trump has them, well, trumped.

    They are not used to a politician sounding the way he does. But lots of people know someone like Trump, and they are not stymied.

    • #1
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm
    • Like5 likes
  2. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    Doug Kimball: President Donald Trump is not an eloquent man. He’s a businessman. He doesn’t filter his words through ideology.

    Nor common sense.

    My dealings with the uppermost levels of management are not as extensive as yours, Doug. At one company, I did develop a rapport with the president. He asked me on one occasion “Can we do this?” and I responded “How much money do you have?” It became a running joke. One time he responded “Why don’t you ask me how much time I have.” I shot back “I already know how much time you have.”

    Donald has been jabbering non-stop for as long as he’s been a public figure; conducting a stream of semi-consciousness the whole time. In business that is tolerable, though sometimes risky. As a national leader, he needs to dial it in.

    • #2
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm
    • Like30 likes
  3. Profile photo of Chuck Enfield Thatcher

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: But Donald Trump, he stymies them. What is he saying? What is that supposed to mean? They are lost. President Trump has them, well, trumped.

    They are not used to a politician sounding the way he does. But lots of people know someone like Trump, and they are not stymied.

    I’m with you JM. Their admitted lack of understanding is contextual. They can’t make sense of what he’s doing in the context of being POTUS. I can’t either.

    Even if Trump is an MBO President, he would benefit from improved clarity around his objectives. Then there’s still the question of whether or not MBO works in politics. A CEO sells his objectives, then tells anybody who didn’t buy in to get on board or get out. How does President Trump get his fellow Republicans and a handful of Democrats to buy in? And what effective CEO routinely distracts his team from the mission with pointless BS?

    Even if we assume he’s running the White House like he runs his business, it doesn’t follow that it will be effective.

    • #3
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm
    • Like7 likes
  4. Profile photo of Jamie Lockett Reagan

    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    • #4
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm
    • Like27 likes
  5. Profile photo of Spin Coolidge

    Doug Kimball: I’ll admit I get irked at times by Bill, Jonah, Charles, Kevin (you know who you are) along with others who still can’t seem to get their heads around Donald Trump, President.

    They’ve got their heads around him all right. It’s just you don’t agree with their understanding. I do agree with their understanding. I think he is a bloviating nincompoop. Now you can laugh and call me a snowflake and point out how he’s trolled even me. That’s fine. Doesn’t change anything. He’s still a bloviating nincompoop.

    I’m afraid his HR review is going to come in about 18 months, when the Rs lose the house and the senate (if they ever had it). I know, it won’t be his fault. It won’t be his incessant nonsense. It’ll be because they wouldn’t work with him, or they didn’t get him, or whatever. Except, it will be his fault.

    I’ve been around a lot of CEOs, too. And almost to a man (or woman), they’ve been intelligent, well spoken, and able to win people to their camp. Yeah, they all have ideas way outside the box. That’s a good thing. Trump’s ideas aren’t outside any box.

    • #5
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:52 pm
    • Like22 likes
  6. Profile photo of Spin Coolidge

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    You seem to have a shred of human decency, it would seem…

    • #6
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm
    • Like4 likes
  7. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: President Donald Trump is not an eloquent man. He’s a businessman. He doesn’t filter his words through ideology.

    Nor common sense.

    My dealings with the uppermost levels of management are not as extensive as yours, Doug. At one company, I did develop a rapport with the president. He asked me on one occasion “Can we do this?” and I responded “How much money do you have?” It became a running joke. One time he responded “Why don’t you ask me how much time I have.” I shot back “I already know how much time you have.”

    Donald has been jabbering non-stop for as long as he’s been a public figure; conducting a stream of semi-consciousness the whole time. In business that is tolerable, though sometimes risky. As a national leader, he needs to dial it in.

    I can’t say that keeping these CEO’s on point and within reason was easy. They were prone to regular exaggerations that were cringe-worthy. And they were not always the most receptive of my calls for restraint. Some, the most insecure, were sometimes very difficult to work with. Donald is quick to snap back and seems to take criticism very personally. He’s no guerilla warrior. He picks his fights on the battlefield. Personally, his propensity to tweak his opponents seems kinda petty, but then again, he can be magnanimous and gracious. He’s an enigma, but he does have the ship pointed in the right direction.

    • #7
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    • Like7 likes
  8. Profile photo of Nanda Panjandrum Thatcher

    “Least [loudly/repeatedly] said, soonest-mended,” maybe? Perhaps being somewhat of a cypher – even to your own people – has its uses in commerce. Not so sure about governance…

    • #8
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:56 pm
    • Like4 likes
  9. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    The conversation you have with employees is far different than the conversations you have with investor representatives, fund managers and analysts, re: public companies.

    • #9
    • May 15, 2017 at 2:58 pm
    • Like6 likes
  10. Profile photo of Jamie Lockett Reagan

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    The conversations you have with employees is far different than the conversations you have with investor representatives, fund managers and analysts, re: public companies.

    Yes, but in all of my conversations I say what I mean and mean what I say. I don’t say one thing when meaning something entirely different. This is what Trump does.

    • #10
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm
    • Like12 likes
  11. Profile photo of Man With the Axe Member

    People who like Trump only take seriously the things he says that are defensible. When he says something that is indefensible, he didn’t mean it, he’s just trolling everyone, he’s playing 3-D chess, he’s like a CEO, he’s a showman, and so on.

    Heads I win, tails you lose.

    • #11
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm
    • Like32 likes
  12. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Spin (View Comment):

    Doug Kimball: I’ll admit I get irked at times by Bill, Jonah, Charles, Kevin (you know who you are) along with others who still can’t seem to get their heads around Donald Trump, President.

    They’ve got their heads around him all right. It’s just you don’t agree with their understanding. I do agree with their understanding. I think he is a bloviating nincompoop. Now you can laugh and call me a snowflake and point out how he’s trolled even me. That’s fine. Doesn’t change anything. He’s still a bloviating nincompoop.

    I’m afraid his HR review is going to come in about 18 months, when the Rs lose the house and the senate (if they ever had it). I know, it won’t be his fault. It won’t be his incessant nonsense. It’ll be because they wouldn’t work with him, or they didn’t get him, or whatever. Except, it will be his fault.

    I’ve been around a lot of CEOs, too. And almost to a man (or woman), they’ve been intelligent, well spoken, and able to win people to their camp. Yeah, they all have ideas way outside the box. That’s a good thing. Trump’s ideas aren’t outside any box.

    I’ll take a bloviating nincompoop over a duplicitous crook. And I think it’s a little early to be writing off the interim elections. As for boxes, they are difficult to commandeer when you have to get 269 cats inside your box.

    • #12
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:15 pm
    • Like12 likes
  13. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Spin (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    You seem to have a shred of human decency, it would seem…

    Come on. Tell us what you really think, because I’m thinking, underneath, you still prefer the Donald over Hillary.

    • #13
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm
    • Like4 likes
  14. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Man With the Axe (View Comment):
    People who like Trump only take seriously the things he says that are defensible. When he says something that is indefensible, he didn’t mean it, he’s just trolling everyone, he’s playing 3-D chess, he’s like a CEO, he’s a showman, and so on.

    Heads I win, tails you lose.

    Exactly!

    • #14
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm
    • Like4 likes
  15. Profile photo of Fritz Member

    Good observations, Mr. Kimball. I have known a number of real estate developers and commercial builders who were extremely goal-oriented, could be very pushy and even obnoxious, and yet all were simply absolutely devoted to their company’s goals. Therefore, any step that became a stumbling block simply had to be overcome, because the goal was the thing.

    A track record of successful and profitable completion of their projects was the main measure of success, and they did not care much what anyone thought of them.

    Nor did they suffer fools gladly (even when they themselves could sometimes get a little . . . overexcited). I served on a regional chamber of commerce board for several years with one person who exemplified these characteristics; he drove the more conventional community and business leaders absolutely nuts, he was so far a cry from a “go along to get along” kind of guy.

    I still like the observation someone made during the campaign that Trump supporters take what he says seriously, but not literally, whereas his opponents take him literally, but not seriously.

    • #15
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:21 pm
    • Like7 likes
  16. Profile photo of Damocles Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    You seem to have a shred of human decency, it would seem…

    As opposed to poor Doug Kimball, apparently fooled by the shredlessly indecent!

    • #16
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm
    • Like6 likes
  17. Profile photo of Damocles Member

    Man With the Axe (View Comment):

    People who like Trump only take seriously the things he says that are defensible. When he says something that is indefensible, he didn’t mean it, he’s just trolling everyone, he’s playing 3-D chess, he’s like a CEO, he’s a showman, and so on.

    Heads I win, tails you lose.

    Put this in terms of continuous A-B testing and you’re on the right track.

    Many very successful companies and people seem confusing or contradictory until you understand this.

    • #17
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm
    • Like1 like
  18. Profile photo of John Walker Contributor

    Doug Kimball: He’s a business guy, through and through, our first management by objectives CEO, the MBO President.

    Hmmm…. I’ve always used “MBO” to mean “Master of the Bloody Obvious”, but I guess that works as well.

    • #18
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm
    • Like8 likes
  19. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member
    Doug Kimball Post author

    Damocles (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    You seem to have a shred of human decency, it would seem…

    As opposed to poor Doug Kimball, apparently fooled by the shredlessly indecent!

    I was onto DT from the beginning, but he ended up on top! Like it or not, he won the nomination. I’ve chronicled the entire thing here in dozens of posts, including my slow conversion to reluctant support.

    • #19
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:41 pm
    • Like5 likes
  20. Profile photo of I Walton Member

    I find it difficult to dismiss everything he says and does and wish he wouldn’t feed the beast so often, but on substance so far so good, but his lack of insightful knowledge about Washington remains a bigger concern than his inarticulate misdisinformationkerfuffletweetlikemessaging.

    • #20
    • May 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm
    • Like2 likes
  21. Profile photo of MarciN Member

    George W. Bush was at Harvard Business School when its curriculum emphasized management by objectives, and it seemed to me that MBO was reflected in everything he did. It is a great business operating standard, especially when combined with the 1990s balanced scorecard for decision making. I would say that GW was our first MBO president. Romney would have been our second.

    It was MBO that made HBS as successful as it was. Its graduates got great results in the businesses they led.

    Wharton probably embraced MBO too. Trump does seem to work within the MBO framework as he constantly reprioritizes what he is working on.

    • #21
    • May 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm
    • Like6 likes
  22. Profile photo of Spin Coolidge

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    I’m confused. As someone who runs a company I find that clarity in what I say is a requirement of the job. Donald Trump should know this.

    You seem to have a shred of human decency, it would seem…

    Come on. Tell us what you really think, because I’m thinking, underneath, you still prefer the Donald over Hillary.

    It is no longer a valid argument to say “Well, he’s not Hillary.” It is time to retire that. He is not Hillary. If our analysis of him and his actions is going to be couched forever in comparisons to Hillary, we can just shut off Ricochet now and stop having any meaningful conversation.

    • #22
    • May 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm
    • Like15 likes
  23. Profile photo of Spin Coolidge

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    they are difficult to commandeer when you have to get 269 cats inside your box.

    If he couldn’t do the job, he shouldn’t have asked for it.

    • #23
    • May 15, 2017 at 4:12 pm
    • Like11 likes
  24. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Coolidge

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I still like the observation someone made during the campaign that Trump supporters take what he says seriously, but not literally, whereas his opponents take him literally, but not seriously.

    I take him both literally and seriously. He’s not the drunk guy at the end of the bar yelling at the TV; he’s the President of the United States. His words have meaning, and he needs to learn this before he kicks open the door to someone even worse than Hillary.

    Concerning the 2018 elections, the Democrats are currently polling better than the Republicans were in 2010. There’s still time to fix that, but right now we’re on the wrong track, and we need to acknowledge that. The worst thing we can do is go on about how secretly brilliant the President is when he’s butt-fumbling all over the place.

    • #24
    • May 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm
    • Like15 likes
  25. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    Umbra Fractus (View Comment):
    Concerning the 2018 elections, the Democrats are currently polling better than the Republicans were in 2010.

    Pass either tax reform, or a health care bill that people like and those will move. I’m with Doug on this one. It’s a little early yet.

    • #25
    • May 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm
    • Like7 likes
  26. Profile photo of JL Inactive
    JL

    Ricochet is a special place. It’s like the eye in the internet hurricane right now. People here seem to posses what appears to be the singular ability of perspective — to push back the whole picture and render an analysis uncluttered by the usual punditry spin.

    That being said, that last election was the cause of my complete ideological breakdown. And I would’ve happily voted for Doug Kimball 2016.

    • #26
    • May 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm
    • Like8 likes
  27. Profile photo of Chuck Enfield Thatcher

    JLock (View Comment):That being said, that last election was the cause of my complete ideological breakdown. And I would’ve happily voted for Doug Kimball 2016.

    There are a few Rico’s I’d gladly have as my President. And @spin should be SecDef.

    • #27
    • May 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm
    • Like2 likes
  28. Profile photo of Randy Weivoda Thatcher

    Fritz (View Comment):
    I still like the observation someone made during the campaign that Trump supporters take what he says seriously, but not literally, whereas his opponents take him literally, but not seriously.

    I’ve heard that statement a hundred times but still don’t understand it. How can you take someone seriously if you cannot take them literally? If Donald makes good on a promise, like he did with the Supreme Court nomination, his supporters say, “See, we can count on him to do what he says.” Great. But if he says something his critics consider nonsense and months down the road his critics are proven correct, I guess we’re supposed to laugh at the critics for listening to what Trump said. Do Trump supporters have some secret decoder ring that informs them which Trump statements are for real and which ones are just issued to fake out the critics?

    • #28
    • May 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm
    • Like9 likes
  29. Profile photo of JL Inactive
    JL

    Chuck Enfield (View Comment):

    JLock (View Comment):That being said, that last election was the cause of my complete ideological breakdown. And I would’ve happily voted for Doug Kimball 2016.

    There are a few Rico’s I’d gladly have as my President. And @spin should be SecDef.

    I would have been on board till I found out he likes Sting. Not The Police, solo Sting.

    NeverSting/Spin

    • #29
    • May 15, 2017 at 6:31 pm
    • Like5 likes
  30. Profile photo of Chuck Enfield Thatcher

    JLock (View Comment):
    I would have been on board till I found out he likes Sting. Not The Police, solo Sting.

    NeverSting/Spin

    In his defense, pop music was really lame in the ’80’s. You’re too young to remember, but Dream of Blue Turtles was pretty cool when it came out. Some of us are the product of our generation. If Reagan was the cure, Sting was the undesirable side effect.

    • #30
    • May 15, 2017 at 6:37 pm
    • Like5 likes
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