Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dissecting the Obama Campaign

People will be writing books about this campaign. It managed to pull off two seemingly opposite things at the same time. First, it appeared to be a completely open-source organization. Volunteers who kept showing up were put in charge of other volunteers. It grew virally. People like and this guy could make campaign theme songs and videos on their own without approval of the campaign that were not only not embarrassing but actually helped. The campaign distributed an iPhone app so that people could make phone calls to voters, all without giving them any formal training. Tens of thousands of people were trusted to speak on behalf of the campaign.

And yet this seemed to be one of the most disciplined and tightly-run campaigns in history. Everyone, from the candidate on down (possibly excepting Joe Biden), stayed on message. Internal disagreements stayed internal. A strategy was agreed upon early and clung to religiously. There were shockingly few gaffes or miscalculations.

How did they manage to be so open-source and hierarchical at the same time? Or was it more like Macintosh, making you feel like you're a part of a community but in fact making decisions for you?

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