The world is awash in campaigns. Capital Campaigns, Military Campaigns, Political Campaigns, Ideas Campaigns, Advertising Campaigns, Marketing Campaigns, Promotional Campaigns, Social Media Campaigns. If Shakespeare were writing today, As You Like It might read, “All the world’s a campaign and we are merely actors in it.”
The word “campaign” derives from the French “campagne”, which meant open field, and was used in the military sense of soldiers taking to the open field for battle. It would seem obvious, therefore, that economic developers, with their mandate to create jobs and their focus on green, brown, and the neologistic grey field development, should embrace the campaign mentality. Main streeters could campaign for lively downtowns with lots of retail and restaurants, while attraction and retention proponents could campaign for more smokestacks while waving incentive flags, and disrupters could campaign for a bright future through the banner of all things innovation and entrepreneurship.
Rufus E. Miles Jr was a career bureaucrat who said, “Where you stand depends upon where you sit.” And while ec dev professionals are well intentioned, with passionate arguments to support their beliefs, myopathy can cloud their vision and stifle their creativity. Even when they open the doors to national consultants and thought leaders, they receive a stale recipe of more dialogue and more grant writing. Entrenched and stove-piped, both the ideas and those that hold them become ensnared in a zero sum resource scrum that is insufficient to address the multifaceted needs of most communities. I can’t believe that anyone wants to be stuck sitting or standing in that corner.
Successful campaigns require vision, resources and discipline. No one understood this better than Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker, who, in the 1930s, founded Campaigns, Inc. As the New Yorker wrote about Baxter and Whitaker’s work, “No single development has altered the workings of American democracy in the last century as political consulting…[where] political consultants replaced party bosses as the wielders of political power gained not by votes but by money.”
Baxter and Whitaker developed a proven methodology for winning political campaigns that has since been distilled, revised, honed, enhanced, adapted and applied to successful campaigns across industries, communities and countries. Their methodology has both consumed and been consumed by the power and potential of digital technology. It has both embraced and been embraced by champions of causes who have gone on to accomplish unprecedented goals.
Over the next couple posts, I’ll explore Baxter and Whitaker’s simple ideas and consider how they can be applied to spur job growth, wealth creation and other social benefits. In particular, I’ll consider research tools that can enhance strategy development and fundraising efforts. I’ll explore the roll of champions, and how to identify and engage them. And I’ll show how a century old development can alter the workings of economic development to achieve modern global objectives.
For over 20 years, Paul has flown under the radar while pursuing a series of entrepreneurial initiatives in the United States and across five continents. In the process, Paul bagged a Career Big 5 in employment – working for Startup, NGO, Federal Government, Higher Ed and Investment companies and institutions. Through this combination of experiences and his singular focus on supporting entrepreneurs, Paul has developed an unusually broad and insightful perspective on what it takes to achieve entrepreneurial success. With this new blog, The Rumination Paradox, Paul shares some of his insights on entrepreneurship and hopefully spurs some among others. Share thoughts with Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.