Watch LIVE

How Democrats expertly apply the five key principles of the Koch Brothers' business


Applying the Kochs' market-based management principles to campaigns has proven a great success for the party of Harry Reid.

In 2007, Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, Inc., published a book titled "The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World's Largest Private Company," laying out five principles that comprise his market-based management philosophy, to which he attributes the exponential growth of Koch Industries.

As political observers are likely aware, the success of Koch Industries has enabled the Kochs to spend millions of dollars funding libertarian ideological initiatives and Republican political campaigns, something Democrats are not enamored of. Sen. Harry Reid most famously has attacked the Kochs -- using them as a caricature for the villainous one percent seeking to subvert democracy by using their riches to elect candidates who will implement an "extremist" free market agenda, presumably to enrich themselves on the backs of the poor.

Image: MSNBC Screen Capture (Image Source: MSNBC Screengrab) 

What does "The Science of Success" have to do with the Democrats?

In an ironic twist, in looking at the Koch principles and the success of the Democratic party at the national level, one could argue that Harry Reid's Democrats themselves are expert practitioners of the very principles that the Kochs have applied to such great success in industry.

In "The Science of Success," Charles Koch lays out the five elements of market-based management as follows:

1. Vision Determining where and how the organization can create the greatest long-term value

2. Virtue and Talents Helping ensure that people with the values, skills and capabilities are hired, retained and developed

3. Knowledge Process Creating, acquiring, sharing and applying relevant knowledge, and measuring and tracking profitability

4. Decision Rights Ensuring the right people are in the right roles with the right authorities to make decisions and holding them accountable

5. Incentives Rewarding people according to the value they create for the organization

On the matter of vision, progressivism is nothing if not a sustaining vision for obtaining power for the state and the individuals who comprise it. The overarching success of that vision has been realized through a relentless focus on dominating America's core cultural institutions, ensuring the long-term staying power of a progressive ethos that was originally a minority position.

The progressive vision for America is not only easily intelligible -- one instantly knows the party line on issues ranging from the minimum wage, to taxation, to abortion to environmental regulations -- but self-perpetuating and organic; flexible and intuitive. And in taking over America's primary institutions while at the same time embedding itself in and eventually taking over the Democratic Party, these two means for realizing the vision have coincided with the exponential growth of the state on virtually every measure.

Democratic excellence on following Koch management principles is perhaps best reflected in the 2012 Obama campaign, the digital strategy of which is outlined in the fascinating and insightful below presentation.

Inside the Cave

The key takeaways from the "Moneyball" oriented efforts of the Obama campaign wed almost perfectly with the principles that Charles Koch outlines.

The Obama team hired the right people for the right roles -- combining entrepreneurial technology experts from Silicon Valley, who developed superior analytics and targeting tools, with a ground team of thousands of traditional community organizers.

By collecting the information from the digital, technology and analytics team, and sharing it and thus empowering thousands of individuals on-the-ground (who themselves would then report back to the technology folks) in concert with its online efforts, the Obama campaign achieved influence on a scale on which the Republicans simply could note compete.

Such successful efforts were the result of constant testing and measurement of the strength of ideas and tactics in the marketplace for votes, as well as the development of superior information systems.

As the presentation notes, the campaign's strategy enabled the Obama team to build an operation four times the size of Mitt Romney's despite being matched financially, and an organization that of course proved successful in the immediate goal of winning re-election, essential to the long-term vision of progressivism.

In a nutshell, in order to achieve its objective, the Obama campaign hired the right personnel, developed the right analytics tools to collect the right information and share it widely with the campaign's foot soldiers, while deploying the right messages to ensure the highest return on time and monetary investment in the form of donations and ultimately votes. The campaign also worked to ensure that political officials did not fight what the data was telling them with their own biases and intuition, a disciplined and likely difficult to execute approach.

Such an effort could have only succeeded with strong and politically entrepreneurial managers.

As for the incentives, one need only look at the Obama cabinet to see the self-evident rewards for political loyalty and success.

A proxy for the strategy of Democrats in general, by marrying a vision with superior tools, tactics and individuals with the right skills to implement it, the Obama campaign used Koch management principles to great effect. And as the Obama campaign presentation shows, they intend to improve upon such practices in 2016.


Note: The link to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.

Follow Ben Weingarten (@bhweingarten) and TheBlazeBooks on Twitter and Facebook.

You can find all of our Blaze Books interviews on Soundcloud and Stitcher, and subscribe to our podcast automatically via iTunes.

Most recent
All Articles