The Next President Must be a Multitasker and Generalist

The Brookings Institute underlines some of the characteristics the next US President must exhibit in order to effectively navigate the country through one of the biggest global cesspools in its history:

Mr Bush’s successor will confront a classic example of what management consultants call “the tyranny of the urgent”: the tendency of an immediate catastrophe to divert energy and attention from festering or potential ones.

…an overarching challenge for the next president will be a high order of multitasking. That will mean minimising the extent to which these tasks – each in its own way urgent – compete with one another. The only way to do that is to find ways of making progress on one front in a manner that helps on others. That can be done if the solutions are executed in ways that take account, and make a virtue, of the inter-relationship of the problems.

How could this be accomplished?
The article illustrates an intelligent approach to synthesizing multiple issues in one go:

A move towards more effective regulation of financial transactions and credit flows could establish useful precedents, innovative methods and fresh infusions of political will that could then be used in jump-starting progress in regulating greenhouse gas emissions, rescuing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and negotiating a successful round of trade talks.

In fact, an effective international financial system is a precondition for the revival of a trading system that will enable the world to deal with more extensive carbon trading. Moreover, since humanity must ultimately reduce carbon emissions rather than just trade in them, it is going to have to rely heavily on nuclear-generated power. That will provide a further incentive to strengthen non-proliferation measures.

The next president, in other words, needs to be a skilled handyman.
He needs to be a generalist and team-builder. He needs a nimble attention span, an excellent cabinet, and the ability to take limited vacations for at least four years. He needs the ability to reassure masses of angry people, both at home and abroad.

The next president’s lack of definition (let’s face it, both candidates are hard to pin down) may well be a necessary asset. Characteristics that baffle us now could actually be keys to resolving some of the country’s thorniest issues.

Einstein said it best: “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.”

  • I believe that no matter who wins tonight, an excellent cabinet is key to the success of the presidency over the next four years. I shudder to think of what will happen if they fail to do this.