How to solve big problems

4 minute read

July 6, 2019

Endless effort and spin has gone into trying to explain why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 (without ever considering that her own baggage, views and personality had anything to do with it).  As I tried to explain long before the election in my book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” the elites of politics, academia and the media had sealed themselves into such an airtight echo chamber, they had no idea what the mysterious natives of that vast “flyover country” that they looked down on, literally and figuratively, were thinking. 

What they were thinking was that they were fed up to the gills with a double standard that gave the politically-connected a pass for things that would land them under the jail.  There were sick of being ignored and insulted for voicing legitimate complaints about how their lives were being adversely affected by leftist policies, disregard for the Constitution and selective enforcement of laws. They were tired of being called racist or xenophobic if they thought the welfare of suffering Americans, such as homeless veterans or people put out of work by illegal immigrant labor, should take priority over solving the problems of everyone else in the world.  

And on a visceral level, they were tired of the grating combination of ignorance and arrogance (a trait we’ve seen turned up to 11 since the 2018 elections).  It’s that condescending attitude of elitists who are convinced they are the smartest people in the room – so smart, in fact, that their ideas are the only ones that should be allowed to be expressed -- even though the results of their ideas throughout history prove that they don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about.  They think they know how to run the entire planet, but they have fewer practical skills than the average apprentice plumber.

During the Obama years, a lot of young savants with massive egos sailed triumphantly into Washington only to go slinking back to academia after seeing their precious theories shatter on the rocks of reality.  So what can all those Ivy League hothouse flowers learn about problem-solving from a lowly former Arkansas governor and business owner? 

Well, the most important tip I could offer is this:  Very big problems are usually not solved with very big solutions.  A 2000-page bill or a massive ten-year “plan” like the Green New Deal only creates a whole new set of problems.  If you want to turn a problem into a catastrophe, the recipe is simple:  just add lots and lots of federal bureaucrats and taxpayer money. 

When you have a big problem, Step #1 is to break it down into little problems.  Then put someone in charge of each problem who actually knows how to solve it.  It takes an experienced, executive decision-maker just to decide which decisions to make and which ones can be safely left to someone else. (This is something that doesn’t require political experience; anyone who’s ever run a successful business knows it instinctively.) 

Next comes the hardest part: prioritizing.  We’ve all seen executives who are constantly bustling and shouting.  They look busy – some people are even impressed by their constant bustling -- but they never really get anything done.  That’s because they’re trying to do everything at once, instead of focusing on issues in their order of importance. 

I’ll let you in on another secret: the importance of an issue is not determined by how important the people closest to it think it is.  You might have to disappoint or even anger people by telling them their pet issue isn’t your top priority.  Sorry, that’s part of the job. 

I once had a professor of religion who said one of the wisest things I ever heard about management:  “Don’t use all your water to put out too small a fire.”  If you use up all your resources and credibility overreacting to a small crisis, then what do you do when a big crisis comes along and your fire extinguisher is empty?  (We’re seeing this a lot in the media these days, when every little controversy becomes a hair-on-fire CRISIS, then gets dropped the second the next one comes along.  All this has accomplished is to erode their own credibility.)

Another essential skill is choosing the right employees.  If you have important jobs to fill, find people who’ve mastered every aspect of their current job and are happy there, but ready to move up.  Someone who wants a promotion because he’s not comfortable where he is won’t be any more comfortable higher up. 

You also don’t need an idealistic dreamer who leaps in from academia to reinvent the wheel.   Advanced degrees and high grades in school are admirable, but often, real world experience and common sense are more valuable.  When you need to put out a fire, you call a firefighter, not a Ph.D. in combustion theory.  And as we’ve also learned only too well from the FBI and the Mueller team, you don’t put people in charge who let partisan zeal prejudice the way they do their jobs or deal with the public. 

That’s what you should learn on day one of “Leadership 101.”  So how come so many of our leaders and the people vying to be our next Chief Executive still haven’t learned it?

 

Leave a Comment

Note: Fields marked with an * are required.

Your Information
Your Comment
BBML accepted!
Captcha

More Stories

DACA Update

DACA Update

Wait for it...

Comments 1-25 of 32

  • Bruce Ross

    08/25/2019 04:10 PM

    As always a good read. And a whole bunch of common sense. Thank you Sir. Woo pig sooiieee

  • Beth Prater

    08/25/2019 02:19 PM

    Your comments are true. What I can't understand - wait, maybe I can understand. I don't think the mainstream media and a good portion of the Democratic Party people think we, as American citizens THINK! They act as we don't have a brain inside our heads to decide what we want, or WHO we want representing us. Like we don't have, as my grandmother might have said, "good walking around sense." It's like, they say it, therefore, we should believe it. And don't get me started on the people from Hollywood.

  • David Colonna

    07/08/2019 11:06 AM

    Mike, Right on the money here in this article and also tell the leaders of 200+ companies and our liberal Democrats to stop forcing down our throats (minds) that we must support immoral behavior or equality legislation. We the American people have all the equality we need to survive and even excel within our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Our laws have enough to protect all people, even protecting illegals more than our own citizens, stop telling us lies that we need new equality laws!

  • Linda Olds

    07/08/2019 04:37 AM

    Your recipe for fixing problems sounds right to me, but it would be a big start if those in government just stopped being part of the problem.
    I'm sick of them working to oppose each other rather than do what America needs.
    And I wonder about the investigation into the investigation--are they ever going to come out with the truth?

  • Dana Russell

    07/07/2019 08:42 PM

    I was gonna say, solving big problems would involve lots of gallows and lots of swamp dwellers, but your way is much nicer. :)

  • joseph orsini PhD

    07/07/2019 07:22 PM

    Census - it is VITAL to get a count on the number of illegals in the US.
    When did Federal agencies have to indicate their motives for what they do, and have the Judiciary have to give approval?

  • Tim Touchstone

    07/07/2019 12:21 PM

    Governor Huckabee (I still would like to see you as President!), your wise, sage comments are spot on. As a former career manager in retail, I've seen more than my share of presidents, CEO's, EVP, etc., who thought they had all the answers, even though most had no real experience "in the trenches". As an example, in one experience, we in the field, were told to hire more college grads as our assistant managers, in order to get more "diverse" views on managing. Some were good, but the vast majority came to the job thinking they would be carrying a clipboard around and giving orders, but the reality, especially today, is that assistant managers have to be WORKING along side the people they are supervising. The retail world, and I expect, most businesses, are EXTREMELY competitive. The winners are the guys who control their costs, while still keeping customers happy. We need more managers in government, and NO politicians!

  • Richard Fred Howard

    07/07/2019 11:11 AM

    I have made several attempts to communicate with Mike but realize he probably sees less than half of one percent (.5%) of these comments. I relate to this particular article as it suggests how major problems should be faced and dealt with. I feel out Nation, actually, World is facing three major issues today, two of which I have seen addressed here and in several other Media, i.e. 'EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) Events' and the global Monetary Crises. The other ... Islam ... which is a bit more challenging and awkward to deal with. While Earth's population is increasing rapidly (3 Fold in just my lifetime), the Judeo-Christian Community seems to be on the decline while Muslim, with their four wives and multiple childbirths, are multiplying like Rabbits. Their 'Self Proclaimed Agenda' for World Domination is well documented in a book (Koran) written (dictated) by an illiterate camel herder. After 9/11, 2001, I became concerned, curious, and educated as to the serious threat Islam poses to mankind i.e. other than Muslim and wrote a paper about it in 2004 .. "his camel's cold" (available in digital format).

    I agree with Mike's summary of how to deal with and solve "Major (Big) Problems. I grew up in 'Big Industry', not far from Little Rock, and have had more than one successful business. I am now on a 'Rescue Mission for Christ' in South America. Living outside the "Big Fish Bowl" called the U.S.A. I can clearly observe and monitor our Nation's decline.

    I was moved by President Trump's 'Fourth of July' National, Patriotic Celebration. He needs wider support for his agenda to rescue & restore our 'Nation to Greatness' as we move toward 2020 Elections. If you will listen to suggestions from a humble follower whom God has called and is using to 'Rescue' those 'At Risk' in Global Societies, as well as an abused segment of our 'World's Environment', there is definitely a way we can unify the Global Judeo-Christian Community in common cause while addressing Islamic Aggression. Surprise, it is totally Non-Partisan. God gave me the 'Vehicle' ... You Drive! I've got 'His Road Map' and Directions.

    Respond to: R. Fred Howard, [email protected], +57 (320) 649 1388, El Retiro - Antioquia, Colombia, S.A.


  • Donna Crofoot

    07/07/2019 10:47 AM

    After viewing the comments by the 20+ candidates for Democratic Presidential Candidate, I would say the 20+ have not learned much that is covered in Leadership 101. They spout this today and that tomorrow always h oping they can get someone's attention. They pander to the crowd hoping to become the candidate for 2020. They offer such wild ideas that are not practical, cost a fortunate with no idea of how or what to do for financing. I feel all 20+ failed Economics in their educational backgrounds, All bluster for a vote. Really not many are eligible to be street cleaners.

  • Karin R. Miller

    07/07/2019 10:32 AM

    So right on - the biggest problem in Washington, D.C. is the complete lack of common sense, coupled with their big egos - I hope Donald Trump lasts long enough to improve the mess in the Swamp!

  • Patricia Ann McMahon

    07/07/2019 08:51 AM

    This may also apply with "The Peter Principal" from the 80's and 90's. Someone is promoted beyond their level of competency . Some people are absolutely competent at their job. Until they promoted to a level where they can't function. You may be a great supervisor, but can't handle being the big boss.

  • Richard Allison

    07/07/2019 03:09 AM

    I always cringe when I see an elected figure appoint department heads from any of the Ivy League, East Coast or California universities. Personally, I would rather see people appointed from schools like Alabama, Tennessee, Iowa, Texas and etc. It seems like these elite schools breed people that are not normal people. I think President Trump tapping industry leaders was brilliant. I think another group that should not be appointed or elected are lawyers. Lawyers are the single biggest group of people that are destroying the country.

  • Barry Ligus

    07/06/2019 11:43 PM

    Another problem with DC bureaucracy is the inability to properly fund existing, proven programs. They jump on new directives, fail to secure new and adequate funding, and then steal from the proven programs to not lose face.
    God forbid anyone suggest phasing out inefficient programs that are dear to legislator's hearts, or consolidating duplicate programs in the most effective Department.
    Today's bureaucracy has too much control over our lives, mismanages public funding, and is, for the most, unaccountable for their incompetence.
    What ever happened to draining the swamp?

  • william fuhrer

    07/06/2019 05:26 PM

    Does the Democratic Party think that Bernie Sanders would try to be a Party Basher if he thought Hillary Clinton was the BEST AND BRIGHTEST Democratic nomininee or even an ACCEPTABLE nominee

  • Paulette J Reecer

    07/06/2019 05:24 PM

    Its all about "me". I need to be first, what I want is more important, I can solve all problems, as long as its about "me". If you love this Country as much as they say and want what is best for her citizens you would be better off if you remembered is not about your greed and your need for power. If you could do half of what President Trump has done then we might have something to talk about. Instead of running Trump down how about trying to meet him half way. I was raised to respect my elders even if I don't always agree with them. Pray for this country folks and read verse 2 Chronicles 7:14

  • Jim Bagby

    07/06/2019 04:57 PM

    Gov. Huckabee; Great article that every politician should read. Why don't you start a class on teaching common sense and envite all the democrats in congress to attend. Thanks, Jim

  • John Alpers

    07/06/2019 04:44 PM

    I completely agree with your comments. My problem right now is I do NOT see a candidate from either party worthy of my vote. None are the leader we need. Can you convince me otherwise?
    I feel like I am voting for the least worst option. We (the US) is better than any of the options we have.

    What can we do?

  • richard van bueren

    07/06/2019 02:45 PM

    well said guv heck...always enjoy

  • Anne Turner

    07/06/2019 02:09 PM

    Easy answer to last question: Because they are arrogant, egotistical, self righteous, and not nearly as smart as they think they are. Things that sound wonderful and idealistic on paper often don’t work in real life. These people honestly look down on what they see as the lessor folks and “know” that they are wise beyond belief SHOULD tell everyone else how best to lead their lives. In general they are the privileged, the ones who live in gated communities or walled estates, or perhaps in lofty academic towns. They are, and have been, isolated from the realities other people face. Furthermore, they are extremely racist and bigoted When you single groups out based on color, religion, or sexual preferences for special treatment, that is bigoted.

  • Stephen L. Bussa

    07/06/2019 02:00 PM

    Very well said!

  • jack macdonald

    07/06/2019 01:29 PM

    Your article sums up the elites in very clear terms. They are way more irrelevant to us mortals than they will ever know. I am an average middle American and with all humbleness, believe I have 3 times the common sense I have seen issuing from any of the Dem candidates. It is so obvious to anyone with a lick of sense that these people are a bunch of pandering, thoughtless and overly pampered nitwits. How do these people get this far in life having learned so little? jack

  • Jerry korba

    07/06/2019 01:19 PM

    Here is my take the border a big problem socialist do not want to secure it GOP has a problem of how do we reduce the amount ceo makes and the difference should be made narrower between its employees in our corporate world the two should work at that more health care benefits for employees a bit less for ceo secure the border concentrate on citizenship do this before winter

  • Carolyn J Blue

    07/06/2019 01:12 PM

    You are always so “right on the money” Senator! I whole heartedly agree with everything you have said and advised!!!????

  • Jim Dick

    07/06/2019 01:06 PM

    Good post, Governor Huckabee.

    Seems to me that those vying to oust Trump have no true leadership ability for two reasons: they only care about their agenda, and most have only held public service (?) jobs...

  • rodney burke

    07/06/2019 01:05 PM

    uh because they have zero clue what "leadership" is? So it would seem. Joe is the only one who has EVER been in a leadership role. kamala has not been a DA in decades and she certainly doesn't know how to lead. ref: kavanaugh hearings? She knows how to lie, misguide, and tell half truths but that is it. Hatocrats have no real leadership experience. Zero. Everyone has been in politics all their life and know nothing else. Unlike the GOP which had, 2 governors, a CEO of HP and DT + Ben Carson. There is essentially NO one anywhere in the Hatocrat party that knows how to lead. It will be like the unqualified leading the inept. There is a clear choice moving forward and it is NOT on the left. They all appear to be criminals, liars and frauds. Look at how many hatocrats have been arrested, tried or jailed for corruption in the last 10 years?