When I saw the book, The Politics Industry, pop up in my LinkedIn feed authored by Katherine Gehl along with Michael Porter, I skimmed the viewable pages on Amazon. Brilliant content and creative – using Porter’s Five Forces on the political stage. More than brilliant – genius thinking. Within minutes, I was reaching out to Katherine Gehl on LinkedIn for an interview request.
- Katherine was the former CEO of her family’s business, Gehl Foods before they sold the company in 2015.
- Previously, her work in the government and public sector has included doing economic development projects for Mayor Richard Daley’s office in Chicago.
- President Barack Obama nominated Katherine Gehl to the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in 2010.
The Politics Industry
If you are skeptical because you think this is a book with a political bone to pick, you are partly right but partly mistaken.
I’m apolitical. In the words of one of my favorite speechwriters, Peggy Noonan, this old-fashioned Midwesterner still believes character is king. I just don’t see a lot of it in the political landscape.
Accordingly, this is about as much talk about politics you’ll get from me. However, push me a bit, and I’ll enjoy a long discussion about Governor William Bradford’s 40-year dairy which is in book form, Of Plymouth Plantation.
I share my personal beliefs because Katherine does not talk about the left, the right, or somewhere in between. Instead, she addresses a frustration about the current political spectrum we live in – a worn-out, 2-party system that lacks innovation and competition.
Katherine’s creative use of applying Porter’s Five Forces (as mentioned earlier) is a clever use of this tool – one that Porter himself had never considered applying to the 2-party system.
- The book is a result of a 2017 report entitled, Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America.
- Katherine was inspired by the work and writing of Mickey Edwards who wrote the book, The Party Versus the People.
- Is this a good/great idea? Is this idea right for the country? Is this what my constituents want? Katherine explains why our elected officials are failing with these questions.
- The U.S. is innovative but lags in politics, and the trend is not favorable.
- Political innovation can be found in a simple nonpartisan framework – think Venn Diagram where one circle includes the word achievable and the other powerful.
- The founding fathers and their concern with overtly political partisanship.
Key Terms and Concepts Discussed
- The Duopoly
- “Congress is not broken, it’s fixed.”
- Lack of Healthy Competition
- The Spoiler Problem
- In it for Themselves
- The Final 5 Voting Concept
Favorite Books of Katherine Gehl
There’s no way I’m ending an interview without asking my guest what they read. In our green room discussion, I learned that Katherine is a voracious reader, but I admit that I hit her cold with the question about favorite books at the end of the show. Here are a few that stand out:
For politics-related books, three stand out …
- The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans by Mickey Edwards
- The Centrist Manifesto by Charles Wheelan
- Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop by Lee Drutman
- A Declaration of Independents by Greg Orman
Title Photo by Cornell University