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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Why rules trump good technique (but they should not!)

management, project, program, portfolio
Rules trump technique every day!

“6 Enhance your location.” President Donald Trump

“The most critical thing in a negotiation is to get inside your opponent's head and figure out what he really wants.” Jacob Lew

I was fascinated by the news stories about President Trump floating the idea of holding the G7 meeting at his Doral Resort in Miami. The reaction from the media was predictable, and the “Intelligencer” had this quote: “It’s no shock to see Trump trying to misdirect government money to his own coffers, and it’s even less shocking to see him doing it to prop up the


That position immediately struck me as an odd, but predictable, position for a reporter to take. The President is worth, quite literally, billions of dollars. Furthermore he stated he would host it at “cost”. Given the media’s predictable reaction, why would President Trump invite the scrutiny of trying to hold the meeting at Doral?


I went to President’s best-selling book “The Art of the Deal”, and the answer was right there! Rule number 6 is “Enhance your location!”

Step back from the politics and look at it from a pure negotiation perspective. When the other parties come to the United States to negotiate, they will literally be coming to the home of the biggest economy and military on the planet.

That is impressive!

If they would have stayed at Doral, everywhere they looked would have reminded them that this is the personal property of the man they will be negotiating with. That is also impressive! The President would have also gained the advantage of “sleeping in his own bed” and having, literally, the home court advantage.

All those things would have subconsciously leveraged his ability to get the best deal! He would have been negotiating from a position of power and would likely have been able to extract a better agreement for the people of his country. However, it “looked” bad.

And that is a problem in any big organization. The rules become what is important, not the actual outcome. Hasn't this same thing happened to all of us? You are trying to accomplish something of strategic importance to your organization, only to be thwarted by a rule, process or procedure?

In this instance the focus should have been on what the United States was doing to gain an edge in what may be the most important meeting held in the entire world!

Instead the story was the procurement.

Ultimately the decision was made to move the meeting somewhere else, and in doing so the United States lost an advantage.


I never publicly discuss politics. I find that it is almost impossible to change anyone’s mind with facts, and it exposes me to unneeded risk and scrutiny. Who needs that? I do find it interesting to look at what is going on in politics from a management or project perspective, and when I run across a story like this, I can’t resist commenting on the organizational reason why the decisions were made.


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