When Pride Hits the Ceiling: What Businesses can Learn from the US Federal Budget Talks

It’s stifling in congress nowadays, and it’s not just because of the D.C summer heat. As the August 2nd deadline to adjust the debt ceiling and balance the budget looms, Congress remains in an utter stalemate. Hubris on both sides of the party lines has already destroyed a balanced budget proposal that Obama presented earlier in July, and no other agreement has even been close to coming to fruition.

The founding fathers created a built-in a bottleneck to ensure Congress would slow down its decision-making to force all perspectives to be considered before a decision was made. This, to ensure their constituents felt heard. The focus of service was to be the rational voice of the people and to meet their communities’ needs in a very similar to way that a business must meet the needs of a customer.

So, when did this change? When did it occur that the self-interest of the politician should be the customer?

The two parties of Congress are engaged in a game of chicken: driving from opposite ends, one is waiting for the other to flinch first. Today, in the hands of congress, this slow-down has proven troublesome for not only the American people, but the global community as well.  The interconnectedness of the US with other global economies is so complex that this self-centered dawdling can result in major economic turmoil across the world. Given the current status of the European Union and its responsibility to revive the already-ailing Greece, the US’s own troubles could prove to be a venerable economic deathblow.

Congress must grow out of clinging to the bottleneck and refocus on service to the American people. The citizens in this country are being punished rather than served, and if Congress could appreciate the need for throughput, they might rethink whom they are serving. And Americans wouldn’t be on the edge of their seats, waiting to be served.

It seems simple, but these questions must always be at the forefront of decision-making:

  • Who’s the customer?
  • What value are you providing?
  • How can you move to that end?