Wakeman Consulting GroupWakeman Consulting GroupWakeman Consulting Group
+ 1 917-705-6301
Washington, DC 20008
Wakeman Consulting GroupWakeman Consulting GroupWakeman Consulting Group

You Can Learn A Lot From This Government Shutdown…(And, It Isn’t What You Think)

As anyone with a pulse probably knows, we are in the middle of a government shutdown currently with the added pressure of the looming need for the country’s debt ceiling needing to be raised or we won’t have enough money on hand to pay our bills which would put the United States in default for the first time in history…which would be really, really bad.

Having spent many days watching news reports, reading analysis, and listening to talking heads, I am sure that everyone has had more than a fair share of this government shutdown…

Unfortunately, because we get more spin than fact and more yelling than analysis, we aren’t getting some really valuable lessons that can be applied to business out of this mess. And, we really should…

1. Negotiation Is Being Given A Bad Name: At every turn, we hear about “negotiations” and how they aren’t happening or can’t happen or what have you. Which is starting to give negotiations a bad name. 

In its purest form, a negotiation is a discussion focused on an agreement. Along with this usually goes a need for intent to form an agreement. 

With the actions of a small minority of the Republican Party, it seems that they have misconstrued negotiation with something along the lines of ransom…which isn’t a negotiation. 

2. Framing Is Very Important: As a business owner, you have to know how to sell your product or service. That involves marketing, but most importantly, it involves framing. 

What do I mean by framing? 

Loosely I mean it as you want to surround your argument with images that make it appealing. 

On the right, we have a frame that the Affordable Care Act is hated and bad for America.

On the left, we have a frame that it is important to fund the entire government.

Frames can work, but they can also backfire if your frame isn’t truthful or if the circumstances change and you fail to adjust your frame to reflect a new reality. 

3. Just Trying To Put A Dollar Value On Economic Policy Is Impossible: A very popular talking point is about how the shutdown isn’t so bad. Ultimately this isn’t a very smart talking point because it fails to understand the most basic macroeconomic principle…which is that of a “mixed economy.”  

This principle is pretty basic and non-controversial and you can argue to your heart’s content about how much a percentage of the overall economy should be “private” or “public.” But the one thing we can say for certain is that laying off 800,000 employees and sucking out hundreds of millions of dollars a day from the economy is going to have an effect that private business won’t be able to fill very quickly or easily. 

Which means that when you say that the effect is not too bad or only $X, you are missing the point that there are smarter ways to eliminate waste and that putting a big hole in the economy isn’t smart policy…especially when the economy isn’t as strong as it needs to be anyway. 

Obviously there are more lessons to be learned, but these just struck me as pretty interesting today.