Some points from the book can be applied to many people or organizations, including a student affairs division in a college or university. Here are some of the points I pulled from the book:
- Collecting & Managing Data - Harper and his team develop a powerful set of data on his supporters which is used quite effectively to help him progress to leader and eventually Prime Minister.
- Understanding Grassroots Support - In his bid to gain the leadership of the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative Party his resources largely come from grassroots support as opposed to corporations.
- Relationship Building - Harper does not have the knack for building bridges beyond his base, but he has been quite effective at relationship building within conservative circles. Flanagan points out that this has never been an easy task for Canadian conservative leaders with the exception of Sir John A. MacDonald. (We'll see if Harper can maintain his relationships over time)
- Using Strategy & Tactics - Harper is known widely for his strategic skills and the book highlights some points where he used them wisely and other times where he learned from mistakes.
Relationship building is one of our strengths, but our focus tends to be inward and it will become increasingly important to look beyond our traditional partners. For me this includes faculty and especially people and organizations beyond a school's borders. Experiential learning is one way we are doing this already, but seeking resources, such as funding, is one largely untested area for our field.
It would be hard to suggest that we do not use strategy and tactics in our work now. Every person in our field will undoubtedly have a few good stories to share. The coming years will stretch our thinking to new levels as resources continue to shrink and the academic core of a school will continue to press their case for having the lion's share of the resources. Therefore, we must continue to adapt, support one another and most importantly share our stories widely to show the powerful impact we have on learning.