A.B.I. – Always Be Innovating

January 14, 2013

There’s a famous scene from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin’s character screams, “A.B.C.: Always Be Closing!” This hardened approach to sales and communications defined the message for a generation, but the key to success today — especially in politics — involves a significantly different approach.

Success involves no less intensity and no less focus than Baldwin’s character exudes, but audiences today are hardly open to the pushy salesmanship like that used to sell Rio Rancho Estates. The key to successfully connecting with today’s audiences involves innovation.

Innovation of message. Innovation of medium. Innovation of product. Innovation of decision-making. Audiences today can quickly detect if they are being sold to, and they run the other way. At the same time, they are hungry for fresh, new, innovative ideas.

Innovation is more than putting a shiny polish on a tired old brand. It’s more about blowing up the core of your organization to find new, better ways to accomplish your end objectives. Why do morning news programs have couches instead of anchor desks? It’s a silly example, but it’s a visual cue to audiences that news programs are different now.

Campaigns can innovate by building authenticity. Spend time in Hispanic communities and stop calling them an “outreach” coalition. Outreach implies you want to keep someone at arms length. It means they’re not really people you accept as equals.

Collaborate with organizations outside the party structure. Think tanks, local businesses, community organizations. Why do community organizations turn out in force for Democrats? It’s not just about politics. It’s about relationships.

Advocacy organizations can utilize innovation by turning to social media and online video as a primary channel for communicating their message.

The core of innovation rethinking solutions to existing needs. It’s not just for Apple, it’s for every organization. As Henry Doss writes in Forbes:

“Innovation is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who lack the capacity for joy. Leading an innovation culture means living inside of chaos, while maintaining a focus on cardinal points; operating within demanding goals and financial requirements while remaining open to diverse and contradictory points of view; sometimes ‘losing your way to find your way.’ Above all else, though, authentic leadership is about experiencing and celebrating the joy of innovation.”

What are examples of innovation you’ve seen in politics?

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