Three political parties of almost equal strength by ‘seat numbers’ have emerged after the recent Republic of Ireland general election. In the UK there was one clear winner. All four political parties have one thing in common; they all have a centralised, hierarchical decision making process.  Decisions, manifestos and appointments are made by the leader and a group of advisors; it’s a ‘top down’ approach.

This method of governance has largely been abandoned by profit and not-for-profit entities over the last half century. Worldwide in business, charitable foundations, the armed forces and policing: governance is moving towards ‘flat structures’ where everyone in the organisation is expected to be both; part of the decision making process and capable of taking responsibility.

If political parties were to adopt this model they would first and foremost need to acquire the latest technology in CRM (Customer relations management system): not to dictate policy to party members but rather to get feedback from all subscribers. This would, if you like, be similar to an ongoing almost relentless opinion poll. The party that regularly sends out relevant surveys and questioners will be in no doubt as to the issues affecting their supporters and more importantly potential supporters. This system when installed will be far more cost effective, albeit complimentary, to the traditional canvass and ‘clinics’ held by representatives. It has also the potential to be more targeted than traditional opinion polls.  Meetings that elicit members views rather than dictate policy are another way of obtaining information but the use of the available technology is far more efficient.

Corporations large and small  have found that diverse and gender balanced boards improve the bottom line. What may have begun as tokenism has since proven to be of real value to outcomes and political parties may be lagging behind in this area also.    

“You mustn’t let people pick their own teams, because what you then create is an inner circle. And when you have an inner circle around the boss, you just create a sense of disempowerment for everyone who’s not in the magic circle of power. Justin Maciejewski;  McKinsey and British Army commander.”

Some parties have reason to be pleased with recent election results but was support for them  reactionary and will it be sustainable?  Holding on to voters is likely to be far more challenging than getting that preference on any given day.

Are political groupings looking at the long-game?