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Always searching for the best talent

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By John Riddell

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the word “chaos” is used quite frequently by the national media to describe whatever is the then current state of the Trump White House. Now, the word “chaos” itself means “complete disorder and confusion, “ yet I suggest to you that this is anti-Trump code for any personnel, administrative, organizational or operational change from the day before.  
Most often the derisory “chaotic” evaluations by the talking heads inevitably follow personnel changes. Apparently, they are totally ignorant of one of the very simple facts of successful business management: Executives, whether in government or private business, know that their success and the success of their enterprise is wholly dependent upon the quality of talent they (the executives) can bring to bear on their challenge.
The nature of their challenge, be it business or public policy, is in a constant state of flux. Therefore, the talent required to overcome the challenge must, by definition, evolve. Knowing this, every successful businessperson always strives to improve the talent quotient of his or her organization.
Why then does the president, a successful business executive, come under such scathing criticism when he performs this vitally important, talent-improvement function as president of the United States?
While many of the president’s opponents choose to denigrate the actual talent improvement, the fact is their prognostication of how a person will perform is usually severely hampered by preconceived and existing biases. No matter how they choose to couch it, theirs can only be an opinion of future performance.
Because of this sideline critique, theirs comes with no repercussion for a missed forecast. So criticism for the sake of criticism becomes the order of the day.
The same cannot be said for the president. He has the benefit of seeing firsthand the compatible direction and past results of existing personnel and upon him rests entirely the future results. As every business executive knows, when the company’s future is dependent upon the results of my team, I have to be vigilant in making sure that the team is the best I can recruit.
Once I recruit them, then I have to hold them accountable. And I always have to be on the lookout for even better talent. Every president’s skill in this regard manifests itself in the accomplishments of his administration and failures ultimately play out either at the ballot box or in the historical perspective.
Although his opponents are loathe to admit it, the list of accomplishments by this president, given the amount of time he has been in office, is impressively significant. The fact that you may philosophically and politically oppose these accomplishments doesn’t negate the quantity nor significance of their achievement.
Interestingly enough, the above-mentioned competitive requirement for constant improvement is anathema to bureaucracies. When studying organizational behavior, one of the key attributes of any bureaucracy is its underlying commitment to sustaining itself.
This carries with it a love of consistency, a love of predictability, a love of security, none of which lend themselves to a world of constant change and constant challenge. Yet our governments, both nationally and on the state level, are populated by a myriad of just such entities.  
President Trump and his appointees are not partakers of this Kool-Aid. As a result, they are seen by the existing entities as a clear and present danger. And the president and his supporters are indeed a threat to their status quo.
Now vocal and vicious criticism of presidential decisions and appointment has long been a staple of American politics. A quick read of some of the letters and columns written by contemporaries of the Founding Fathers make some of today’s drivel seem amateurish at best.
Yet there was and is one fundamental difference. The reader of those works knew at the time that they were, in fact, opinions. Contrast that perspective with today’s where opinions are presented as facts, infotainment value is now the criteria for the decision on what news story to run and unverified social media input is pervasive. The term “fake news” is not without merit.
During his campaign, the president clearly portrayed himself as the consummate Washington outsider; his opponent, Mrs. Clinton, the consummate Washington insider. From George H. Bush through Barack Obama, clearly the American public had enough of the policies of the insiders and voted accordingly. (Those of you who are still professed Hillary Clinton supporters, please do not send letters to the editor rehashing the silly popular vote argument).
Yet the simple election of an individual, in and of itself, does not guarantee any substantial change. Only talented individuals without the baggage of bureaucratic legacies will be able to move the Leviathan organizations. I, for one, sincerely hope that President Trump wakes up every day committed to ensuring for the American people only the best in talent to serve in our government.
And I trust that the chosen talent will, in fact, serve to Make America Great Again.

Following a successful international business career, John Riddell turned his attention to small-business/entrepreneurial pursuits that included corporate turnarounds, start-ups, teaching as an adjunct business school professor, authoring noted business and sports columns, and serving as vice president for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce directing its Center for Entrepreneurial Growth. E-mail him at jfriddell@msn.com. The former Georgetown resident now splits his time between Tennessee and Colorado.