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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

If you are a U.S. reader of this blog, you likely will care little about Canadian politics, but a story developing north of the 49th on the political level may provide some insights for your business. (And in case you are wondering, I also care very much about U.S. politics, especially since we are about to relaunch Washington Construction News, and the "Washington" here does not consider Seattle to be its biggest city.)

Okay, here is the story. In Canada, we have a multiparty democracy. In fact, four parties have seats in the legislature (called the House of Commons). In the most recent Canadian election, held just a few weeks before the recent U.S. vote, voters re-elected the incumbent government, the Conservatives. (In Canada, 'Conservative' would roughly equate to Republican).

The Conservatives won more votes than in the previous election, but did not win a majority. Three other parties could, if they wished, vote down the government, and defeat it. The Conservatives won more votes than in the previous election, but did not win a majority -- in other words, everyone could theoretically gang up on the government and defeat it.

After winning the most recent election, the Government decided to rub its victory into the faces of the opposing parties -- proposing changes to eliminate the election financing subsidy for registered parties. (Ironically, the Democrats, in rejecting this option in the U.S., raised enough funds to blow away the Republicans.)

The other parties in Canada however don't have the financial -- or popular -- support of the U.S. Democrats. So, royally pissed off about the threat to their survival with the proposed elimination of this financial support, they decided to gang up on the ruling party.

Wham. They set up a coalition government proposal -- in other words, by teaming up, they had more votes in the House of Commons (roughly equivalent to the House and Senate in the U.S., yes, Canada has a 'senate' but it is a different thing entirely) than the governing party. And that means they can bring down the government.

So, now the decision rests with the Head of State in Canada -- unlike the U.S. president, the Governor General is usually a ceremonial office holder -- but rarely, under our constitution, she has incredible authority. And now she has. She can bring down the government and allow the opposing parties to group together to run the country.

The story is still unfolding, so its resolution is uncertain, but here are the lessen you can learn and apply to your business right now:

  • Everyone has a breaking point. You need to watch for that point. It can create opportunities, or problems, depending on where you are. If you wish to push the stress factor through the roof, consider the consequences. When you are selling, know that there is a point where persistence will be seen as pestiness, where commitment will be seen as obnoxiousness -- and where you, if you are waiting in the wings, you can snatch a client you wouldn't otherwise expect to win.
  • We all work under rules the game. When conditions change, the rules remain the same -- until someone decides to change the game. Then you have a choice: Do you play by the new rules, or do you walk? (Or do create the new game?)
  • You can do great things by defying expectations, by reaching beyond your perspective, and by learning alternative approaches to solving this problem. So, as a Canadian, I will soon resume publishing the local construction newspaper in Washington, D.C. I respect U.S. values, business principals, and democracy. What happens, however, when you choose to view democracy from a Canadian perspective?
If you are looking for a simple answer to all your business problems in this blog posting, you will likely be disappointed. But if you look beyond the obvious, you will find your answer. Consider this question: "What is a Canadian doing publishing the local construction industry publication in Washington, D.C." In answering it, you will likely solve your marketing challenges.

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