FC Now reader Mitch Ratcliffe contends that the recent Fast Company feature on Howard Dean’s campaign manager Joe Trippi misses the point about the Dean campaign phenomenon. Ratcliffe characterizes the feature as “emphasizing the management of Joe Trippi rather than the collective efforts of tens of thousands of people that have produced the results the magazine celebrates as a triumph of management.” Further:
Staffers were allowed to make all sorts of decisions and that’s good, but the real grassroots efforts evolved despite resource limitations that prevented even empowered staffers to make things happen. Instead, the staffers literally said, “We can’t do this” as a campaign and passed responsibility to citizens, who went with their ideas on their own, often carefully isolated from the campaign. I doubt the majority of Dean supporters have the slightest idea who Joe Trippi is, as they went ahead and created tools and connections with their own energy. Trippi let go in a much bigger way than Fast Company suggests, and to his credit, but only because it worked. Without an active citizenry activated by the campaign there would be no article. So, I think this article, which talks about the Abercrombie & Fitch 20-somethings at headquarters is profoundly off the mark.
I’m with Ratcliffe in that it’s not externally explicit to supporters or the public who Trippi is, but I don’t think that’s wholly the point. Sure, grassroots support would have emerged around Dean regardless of the campaign’s recognition of such support, but it was a conscious leadership decision to harness such activity early and often. My take is that had the Dean campaign not embraced and in some ways centralized and blessed this grassroots support, the campaign — or the fruits of the grassroots support — would certainly not be where it is today.
Is this a chicken-egg question? What do you think?