The Fourth Way | Book Review

Because of the great writing by Ron Fournier in Love that Boy and Emily Colson in Dancing with Max, more and more Americans are aware that tens of millions of American children have unique brain wiring that makes life more challenging for them and their families (p. 52)

While written quickly after the 2016 election, Hugh Hewitt shares decades of reflections and a path for unity and goodness capable of bringing those with deep political differences together. The best leaders bring lasting and positive change, and it's not easy. If we revisit John Kotter's (Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School) classic eight stage change process:

1. Establish a sense of urgency
2. Forming a powerful guiding coalition
3. Creating a vision
4. Communicating the vision
5. Empowering others to act on the vision
6. Planning for and creating short term wins
7. Consolidating improvements and producing still more change
8. Institutionalizing new approaches

We find The Fourth Way tightly aligns with the first six stages.

Four Ways

According to Hewitt, the First Way started in the 1930's. FDR invented the first modern American government and Ike, Kennedy, Johnson, and even Nixon refined that continually growing administrative state (p. 2). Next, was Reagan's "Second Way" government embracing real "rollback" of communism abroad and massive tax cuts at home... (p. 2). Hewitt coins The "Third Way" politics of the 1990s - the politics of self-labeled centrists or a supposed ideological restructuring of their respective parties (p. 2). It morphed into small groups of self-congratulatory elected officials, experts, and their financial and media partners concentrated in key urban centers like London and New York (pp. 2-3).

History is often a leader's best guide. Hewitt informs us the "Fourth Way" is actually an old way - the way of Lincoln and Hamilton - free markets and strong defense while adding an emphasis on improvements in infrastructure and modernized delivery of those parts of government that cannot be replaced by the private sector (p. 5).

In this context, the Third Way recognizes Churchill's fear (see Dr. Arnn's Churchill's Trial) of progressive impulsive "efforts to exalt the power of the central government and to limit the rights of individuals." Similarly, the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan mused about the country splitting into a "protected" and an "unprotected" class (p. 9). Hewitt insists the Third and Fourth Way are in conflict, and argues persuasively for the Fourth. This review aligns, via Kotter's change process, Hewitt's stories and recommendations, offering a classical and recognized path for lasting success, and organizational (national) unity.

Establish a Sense of Urgency

"Something fundamental is afoot," declared Dr. Arnn (p. 151) during the Hillsdale Dialogues, leading Hewitt to urge clarity on the priorities and speed on the execution (by the Trump administration) and to abandon all caution on [reform of] entitlements (p. 151). Urgency and simplicity blend well. We used to believe in short, clearly written laws and in the good faith of most citizens. Thus the 1862 Homestead Act, four handwritten pages, is Hewitt's key example of the Fourth Way as it appeared in the past (p. 69).

Think about Academy Leadership's focus on managing energy, not time. "Energy in the executive," from Alexander Hamilton's Federalist No. 70 (p. 19), perfectly captures the point. Or put another way, a good measure of positive change is detecting a rising energy level within the organization (country).

Priorities and results matter. When executing infrastructure projects, Hewitt recommends "Spend twenty percent on construction projects within six months. Be out of business within five years" (p. 67). This approach mirrors the SCRUM methodology, with a relentless focus on delivery of value, early and continuously. The Google Ventures Sprint process can likewise guide communities in choosing which projects will deliver the most value.

Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition

Similar to a Personal Leadership Philosophy unifying organizational (constitutional) values and mission, Hewitt defines a guiding coalition as an Article I GOP, led by Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell; the Article II GOP, led by President Trump; and the Article III GOP, led by Chief Justice John Roberts (p. 28).

Tony Hseih of Zappos and Steve Jobs of Apple both exemplify values alignment first, organizational performance second. Hewitt envisions a possible historic alignment between President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Leader McConnell, if the team governs inclusively, energetically, and joyously, celebrating freedom and prosperity (p. 16).

Composing a leadership philosophy teaches us that credibility and trust are required for effective and sustained influence. Hewitt's discussion of stare decisis, in essence argues that an originalist five-member Supreme Court may overturn bad decisions, but that credibility and trust may be the guiding principle for a stable rule of law (pp. 110-113), rather than political passions.

Creating a Vision

Hewitt's introduction (Chapter Two) is the soul of the book, empathically written from the heart. Multiple, deeply personal stories illustrate how knowledge effectively turns into action, or how a community (administration) may cross The Knowing-Doing Gap. A key point: Humility about abilities is crucial to the success of every infrastructure investment (p. 56). It should be no surprise the best results are inherently values driven.

As an example, over eighteen years, the Children & Families Commission of Orange County has spent $546 million, directing the money to more than 260 recipients and has served more than 1,830,000 children, with no supervision from state or federal authorities (p. 38). Another success, The Commission-HomeAid Partnership, was organized to build facilities that families could use as they got back on their feet, has led to 457 new transitional and emergency shelter beds across the county (p. 51). It's another positive and energizing example of community efforts helping local families gain self-sufficiency. In all of the successful endeavors Hewitt cites, accountability is at the core.

Hewitt specifically recommends novel "Center for Autism" clinics as an example for President Trump's infrastructure initiative, which has gained much exposure since Fournier's Love that Boy and Colson's Dancing with Max (p. 52). It's a terrific idea addressing a growing and challenging nationwide trend.

Communicating the Vision

President-elect Trump committed (21 October 2016) "We are going to rebuild our badly depleted military" in some detail (p. 83). Hewitt offers four expert recommendations (see Appendix B) and priorities as both policy candidates (pp. 84-85) and an articulated vision.

Sometimes it is useful for leaders to remind us what is possible, or what has been accomplished before. How about this example: FDR's Works Progress Administration (WPA), which constructed more than 600,000 miles of roads and built or repaired more than 124,000 bridges, 125,000 public buildings, 8,000 parks, and 850 airport runways in its eight years of existence (p. 32).

Hewitt reminds us humility is what informs originalism in the court, a practical foundation for President Trump's justification for his list of Supreme Court candidates (p. 102). He also cites an 11 September 2016 interview, essentially capturing Trump's promise to live by his nominee list (p. 109).

Empowering Others to Act on the Vision

Learning from his Orange County community experiences, Hewitt urges: Trust local people. Don't trust or enrich federal or state bureaucracies (p. 81). How many of us struggle in large organizations because we are not empowered by our bosses? This is one of the most common leadership failures found in workshops and coaching sessions.

Sound familiar? Recall it is essentially what Stanley McChrystal describes in Team of Teams. Even after creating a unique communication and command headquarters, and delegating most decisions, it wasn't enough. The general ultimately concluded the leader's role is that of a gardener.

Planning for and Creating Short-term Wins

Nothing energizes a team like winning. President Trump needs some wins, and early (p. 25).

Hewitt's term for sort-term wins is Tangible Trump Trophies, or T3s (p. 33). If even a small percentage of the aforementioned WPA results are accomplished, President Trump will succeed. One could imagine nation-wide high speed bandwidth as a candidate project akin to President Eisenhower's highway initiative.

It's worth mentioning that communicating short-term wins is vital. President Trump is an enthusiastic proponent of Twitter. Sharing plans, progress, obstacles, and successes would be a fantastic use of the platform.

Looking Ahead

Kotter's seventh and eighth stage change process steps are future steps we may watch for, as successful leadership indicators.

Special mention must be made to Dr. Arnn, for his visible fingerprints throughout this deeply personal, and keenly relevant leadership roadmap.

Thank you Hugh for the advanced signed copies of your book

JE | January 2017