Recently, irrespective of political affiliation, most people would tell you that the government is broken. Here to inform you, and I know this will be disappointing to some, but this is just simply not the case. The government is still passing laws, collecting revenue, confirming justices, waging war, and impacting our lives.
What is broken, however, and polling bares this out, is our collective faith in our institutions. Poll after poll shows Americans becoming less satisfied and trusting in our government and political theater. While it seems easy to point the finger at someone else, the collective loss of faith is more complex than simple frustration over politics or gridlock. Most likely it has to do with our proximity and our level of engagement.
This is because the opposite is true - we do have agency and we do have representative government. For those that wisely and prudently engage with it, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Incredibly smart and savvy operators are actively engaging in all manners of policy and politics and achieving massive results. The average ROI for fortune 100 companies that lobby can range from 700 to more than 20,000 percent! Yet, most companies remain on the sidelines claiming engagement is too “risky” for their taste. What is it that the 10 percent knows that the other 90 percent have missed?
Perhaps the problem is people’s perception of the government. In my last Commentary, we discussed giving back to the institutions of which we’re apart. This fits perfectly with that ethos. Certain firms that chose to engage and in essence, give back, are rewarded and those that hide behind large associations or try to ride the wave are well, just riding. A friend and former partner says to me all the time, you’re either at the table, or you’re on it. He’s exactly right.
Complicating matters, is that many C-Suites look upon their GR teams with disdain, just another expense rather than a critical component of their organization’s mission. However, the smartest organizations are taking advantage of their resources and investing in government rather than fearing it and achieving results.
While the Government may seem inaccessible, it is by definition…not, and the true practitioners of government relations are living proof. Just look at their ROI. C-Suites to voters should think of GR as stock trading: if you're not paying attention to the market and actively investing, you may not have realized GE isn't in the DJIA 30 anymore and maybe you've missed your chance sell. That isn't the markets fault, they told you, it was your fault. Working with government simply requires attention and a dedication over time to yield results. Consider it a form of compounding interest.
Every day I speak with professionals in and around government, and they all say the same thing: that they feel reactive and want to be more proactive. This is not because they can’t be proactive, but like people who feel they lack a say, the sentiment is the same, that the government is hard to navigate.
That is why we at Terrapin are stepping out and taking a massive risk. We’re taking the contrarian viewpoint that despite the headlines or public opinion, government in and of itself isn’t broken and isn’t the problem. Rather that we must improve how we engage and apply new thinking to that engagement.
We refuse to believe our best days are behind us and that benefits must remain concentrated.
So the only question left to ask is are you just along for the ride or are you going to engage?
The Future belongs to those that build it. So start Building!