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The Systems President - Dilbert Blog

The Systems President

Was President Trump’s first attempt at getting a healthcare bill a failure?

Your answer to that question probably depends on whether you are a goals-thinker or a systems-thinker.

If you see the world in terms of goals, you would say the healthcare bill did not get enough votes on the first try, and therefore it is clearly a Trump/Ryan failure. 

But if you see the world in terms of systems, things look a lot better. I talk about the advantages of systems over goals in my book. The quick summary is that a system is something you do on a regular basis that improves your odds of success in a non-specific way. Systems-thinkers choose paths that allow them to come out ahead in the long run even if they appear to be “failing” along the way.

For example, if you are a founder of a startup that doesn’t work out, you usually end up with new skills. Maybe you also gain new contacts in the industry, more insight into the market, and that sort of thing. Those new assets make your odds of success on the next startup far better.

College students are systems-people. They go to class and study every day without knowing precisely where their careers will lead them. All they know is that a college degree gives them more options and better odds of success. That’s a good system.

I’ve blogged about my main system in life that involves building my Talent Stack. I figure out which skills I need to add to the ones I already have to make myself unique and valuable in the marketplace. For example, right now I’m building out my skillset for livestreaming over Periscope and YouTube. That skill goes well with my blogging. I don’t know exactly where that all ends up, but I know my options will increase with my Talent Stack.

With that bit of background on systems, let’s get back to healthcare. As a systems-thinker, I don’t see the first attempt at a GOP healthcare bill as a failure. I see it as part of Trump’s normal systems-thinking approach. The tell for a good system is that failure puts you AHEAD. And that’s exactly what happened.

By the way, I told you during the campaign that one of Trump’s signature moves is creating two ways to win and no way to lose. He did that again with healthcare. Here were his two ways to win:

1. Healthcare bill gets passed on the first try. Trump looks like an effective leader. The details of the bill get improved over time.

2. The healthcare bill does NOT pass on the first try. This softens up the far right by branding them villains. Now they have to compromise on the next bill or watch as centrist Democrats enter the conversation. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on Obamacare, and the conditions for compromise are IMPROVING EVERY MINUTE. That’s what the Master Persuader tells us happens when you “walk away from the table” like you mean it. Trump just walked away from the table to go work on tax reform. If you watch his Twitter feed, you know he is winking at the public and telling us to stay tuned on healthcare.

Meanwhile, a fascinating thing is happening outside of government. Watch how many private citizens are looking into the details of healthcare reform and even proposing their own solutions on blogs and articles. The nation is engaged on the topic in a way that looks like a self-organizing system. All the public needs is some sort of common website that is designed to discuss the pros and cons of the various ideas in plain language so the best ones can bubble up to the top.

I’ve blogged before that the United States is no longer strictly a Republic. Social media creates a direct-democracy option in the sense that public opinion can be so strong that politicians have to bend to it. But social media only has power if it can focus on something specific. Until the public comes up with its own healthcare plan, social media is powerless.

But consider our unique situation. As far as we citizens can tell, Congress is no longer functional for any issue that has as many lobbyists as the healthcare topic. They can’t get it done on their own. Too many industry-created roadblocks.

Social media, and the weight of public opinion, could overcome any roadblocks in Congress by making it impossible for politicians to get reelected if they ignore the public’s preferred plan. But the public has no preferred plan. There is only public confusion about the options.

As a citizen, I call upon the Trump administration to help the public create a system to sort out the best healthcare options for the country, free from the pressure of lobbyists. Just tell us which website to look at, and we’ll do the rest. When we (collectively) have a good set of proposals (let’s say three different plans), Congress can turn them into bills and vote. If the public takes sides with one of the bills, that helps to neuter the lobbyists. Lobbyists know politicians need to get reelected. And that means lobbyists are helpless when the public and the politicians are on the same side.

I don’t like living in the “can’t do” country. If Congress can’t get healthcare fixed, the public appears ready and willing to fill the gap. All we need is a preferred website to focus that energy.

Better yet, let’s see the debate on healthcare as a limited engagement reality TV show. Bring on the experts on each mini-topic (such as selling insurance across state lines) and have them try to convince a panel of business-expert judges that their plan is the best.

I’d watch it.

You might enjoy reading my book because it talks about systems being better than goals.

I’m also on…

Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

YouTube: At this link.

Instagram: ScottAdams925