What were they thinking?
Anyone who believes preparation doesn’t matter needn’t look far today to appreciate the perils of winging it. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the spectacle of Clint Eastwood riffing his off-color conversation with an imaginary President Obama at last night’s Republican National Convention is an object lesson in the power of planning, or lack thereof. I’m as yet unaware of anyone on Mitt Romney’s convention team who stepped up to say “I knew what Clint was going to say, and how he was going to do it, and I approved of the message and delivery.”
Having a surprise “mystery speaker” to fire up the convention might have created some buzz and entertained the delegates in an otherwise heavily-scripted event, but did no one think to vet Eastwood’s remarks or approach? If they did, and Eastwood refused, then they should have rescinded the invitation. The risk of open mic night in Tampa is unacceptable when the overriding goal is to introduce your presidential candidate to a nationwide television audience, with the accompanying laser-like focus of the media on the evening. If, instead, the convention team chose to rely on the elderly Eastwood to stick to talking points and a strict time schedule in front of a convention crowd of thousands, then they got what they deserved. Eastwood’s riff went viral around the world, for all the wrong reasons for Mitt Romney.
To borrow a line from the British, it’s about the 7 P’s. Or, to avoid an off-color reference on my blog, the euthanized 6 P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. No one is immune.