Blogs » Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: The Trump Factor

Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: The Trump Factor


    By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,


    What happens when change disrupts life?


    If you’re Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, or one of the many other onetime Republican presidential candidates, you’re on the sideline watching Donald Trump plow his way through the GOP establishment as he tears up the “rule book of electoral politics.”


    If you’re Ted Cruz, you’re gaining synergy against the disruptive juggernaut hoping to force a second balloting round at a brokered convention. If you’re a sputtering John Kasich, and if the convention goes brokered, you’re hoping and praying for a miracle. If rumored possibilities are to be counted, that miracle may be a spot on the November ballot as Trump’s running mate.




    Politics be as they may, there’s no question Disruptive Innovation is in play. Disruptive Innovation, a concept first espoused by Clayton M. Christensen in 1995, “describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”



    Joshua Gans, a professor of strategic management at the Rotman School of Management, writing for the Harvard Business Review, asks, “Is Donald Trump an anomaly who is having a long run? Or does Trump represent a fundamental change in the U.S. political system?”


    Keep in mind, disruptive innovation occurs when the rules are significantly altered.


    Has Trump altered the rules?


    “Disruption in the political process,” Gans writes, “would mean changing either the Game of Money or the Game of Scrutiny. Change the first and you shut out a coalition of the moneyed and the requirement of dealing with them. Change the second and politics is opened up to a wider set of actors. So how does Trump fare when measured against this expectation?”


    Gans feels Trump being self-funded has changed the Game of Money. Not needing to rely on outside donations, he’s not beholden, at least in theory, to special interests. But more than just his money, Trump’s success, though to what degree is widely questioned, has attracted what money can’t buy – Free publicity.


    Has the Game of Scrutiny also changed? Gans says maybe.


    That game’s rules are simple.


    1)      You do stuff.

    2)      The media reports it.

    3)      If it is “bad,” you lose support from money and/or voters.


    “We know that rule #3 hasn’t applied to Trump, which makes it look like the rules of the game have indeed changed.


    “But have they? If we unpack rule #3, in the end, someone must lose support. However, Trump cannot lose support from money, as that comes from himself, which gives him an advantage in the game. But what about voters?


    “This is harder to know. Trump has won enough primaries (as of this writing, which is before Super Tuesday votes have been counted) and leads in enough polls. But, as political scientist Dan Drezner argued, Trump has been uncontested on that front because the GOP establishment and other commentators assumed that he would lose support as the primaries dragged on. They have now realized their error, and a reaction is coming. The question is whether it is too late.”


    Let’s take a look at the Trump strategy to see if it’s too late for the GOP establishment.




    It’s all about the art of persuasion.


    Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, was one of the first to really detect the power of persuasion in the “Trump Factor.” Writing on his well-followed blog in August 2015, Adams makes his case why he thought Trump has a “legitimate shot at becoming president.”


    Adams points out Trump’s successes are all due to his power of persuasion. Adams understands many may doubt his persuasion argument. Adams said on his blog last week, “We like to think of ourselves as creatures of reason. But we are not creatures of reason. We aren’t even close. Science has known this for a long time.”


    Adams, a master of the art of persuasion himself, both long-form written and short-form comics, references an “experiment that changed men’s votes (from Clinton to Trump) just by priming the men with a gender-related question. The effect was dramatic and immediate.”


    We may be skeptical, understandably so, on just one study. Yet, Adams’ own years of the study of persuasion causes him to say the study “looks credible” because it shows “humans can be reprogrammed this easily.”


    “The effect you see in the study,” Adams writes, is the “big reason” he predicts Donald Trump will not only win the Republican Nomination, but also win the general election “in a landslide.”


    Trump understands persuasion. The rest of the candidates do not.


    “He’s bringing a flamethrower to a stick fight,” Adam’s summarizes.


    Bullish rhetoric, fourth grade language, headline grabbing talking points hammered over and over with a million pound sledge… They’re all part of the strategy.


    A very persuasive flamethrower-in-a-stick-fight strategy.


    It’s working.


    Have a great Monday. Thanks for letting me share!


    Les Patterson


    p.s. Take 13 minutes today to explore more about Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of Disruptive Innovation and Scott Adams’ Persuasion Reading List.


    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at Feedback and comments are welcome at ©2016, Les Patterson. All Rights Reserved.