By now we have some weeks of distance to the recent US elections – so time to muse about the enterprise takeaways.

There are many repercussions, let’s look at the general themes, I may blog closer to Future of Work and Next Gen Apps implications sometime soon…

Disruption has reached Government – For half a year half of the country was not taking Trump seriously, for half a year half of the country and the media though he could not win… and now half of the country isn’t happy with the election outcome. When things happen that a lot of people did not expect – we talk about disruption: A political newbie like Trump has not only disrupted the Republican establishment (which amused half of the country) but also the best candidate the Democrats had with Clinton (with now half of the country unhappy).
In my lifetime, something similar has only been seen in Italy, when Silvio Berlusconi decided to run for prime minister, and won in about 6 months from that announcement in a general election... But that was a different time, and Berlusconi owned a substantial piece of the Italian media landscape. And it was before we knew what social media was. So now the political class is disrupted by an entrepreneur, who beat the best and brightest of both parties in the last 12 months through a primary and general election. What Trump will do as a president is something for the future - but if you consider that it is a key competence of the political class to get (re-)elected, certainly we can consider the political class to be disrupted. If that will happen to government, too, remains to be seen. 

Enterprise Lesson #1 – Disruption happens everywhere – likely more in the future – enterprises need to be ready for continuous disruption going forward. If government ‘best practices’ get disrupted we see more changes and possible disruption coming towards the enterprise, more than ever time to pay attention what is happening in Washington D.C.

Get more, even win with less – For a long time the conventional wisdom in US elections was that who spent more would win. Not this time, so an encouraging development for enterprises, who are challengers and don’t have the largest budgets. With the right message for an audience / market and working the amplification that media can give to anyone – Trump won with less campaign spend than Clinton. That it was some of its own funds may have changed some of the investment decisions. Enterprises give executives and employees stock to make them part of the decision making. It certainly may have played a role… the irony is that Trump even spoke openly about the strategy – and it still worked for him. 

Enterprise Lesson #2 – It does not have to be more and more all the time. Spend wisely and smart and you may overtake the bigger competitors with the right strategy. And it can be public, but can’t be imitated.

Know your customers – Well this maybe a stretch – but ultimately voters are ‘one time’ customers of a sort. The risk is that many executives and decision makers – especially when based, raised and risen on the coasts – don’t know the customer in the middle of the country anymore. There is probably only very few research where outcomes are more polled and researched than a US federal election. Still the political establishment, the media, pundits all got surprised. Certainly, they need to do a trip to understand the Trump voters and ‘sell’ to them better at the next occasion. 

Enterprise Lesson #3 – Never hurts to know your customer. Elites and closed clubs lose touch of the rest of an economy and socienty easily, has happened before and will happen again. Understand the market holistically and maybe drive across the US next time (and plan a few stops) to get re-connected with the whole market.

Social Matters – It is unlikely that Trump may have won without usage of social media, mostly Twitter. Let’s stay away from the content – but as an amplification tool it has worked and was likely the reason that the Trump campaign could win with a lower spend than the Clinton campaign. Authenticity matters on social media – compare any x Trump vs Clinton tweets and you know who wins in this category. Remember that authenticity does not mean you need to like the content of the tweet. In the long debate between Facebook vs Twitter – for this election Twitter clearly won. 

Enterprise Lesson #4 – Social media matters, when it can be a key contributor to win elections in a country like the US. If you don’t have a social media strategy, time to get one. If you are Facebook heavy, bolster Twitter. Make sure messages are authentic, and resonate with the goal of amplification. The tweet to media connection is one that not only works in politics, but also in business. See e.g. Elon Musk, Mark Andreesen (now on Twitter hiatus) et al.

Don’t take a stake – CxOs are voters, too and entitles to an opinion like everybody. But taking side in any election, particular a close election will always create winners or losers. CxOs need to rethink what side they want to be on, how to deal with the aftermath if they took a side and compare to a general position of neutrality, sparkled e.g. with encouraging employees to vote and other general, pro election themes. 

Enterprise Lesson #5 – Tight elections are always hard. But consider what it means for prospects, customers, partners and employees when a CxO takes a side. Always budget for ample room to rebuild relationships and focus on what matters – growing and protecting the enterprise a CxO is in charge off.


A few weeks out it still is hard to write a blog post on enterprise lessons learnt from this election. Probably not easy to read either… what are your lessons learnt from the last US election that matter for the enterprise? Looking forward to hear from you.

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