Mike Lee, U.S. Senator from Utah, has a plan for the Republican Congress that convenes in January.
Republican leaders should embrace a more open-source strategy development model that includes everyone on the front end to avoid confusion, suspicion, and division on the back end. The last four years have repeatedly shown the folly of excluding anti-establishment conservatives from strategy formation—bills pulled from the floor, intra-Conference chaos, and back-biting in the press.
Inclusive legislative and strategy processes will come with tradeoffs, of course. Leaders will have to surrender some of their institutional power. Conservatives will have to be prepared to accept defeat, fair and square, if our ideas cannot carry the day. Members will have to expose themselves to inconvenient amendment votes. The results of some votes and the fates of certain bills may prove unpredictable. But the costs of an open-source, transparent process are worth it for the benefits of greater inclusion of more diverse voices and views, and for the opportunity such a process would offer to rebuild the internal and external trust necessary to govern.
Senator Lee's approach has some elements of the Agile Development Process, also known as Scrum. Agile is a software development process that relies on diverse, self-organizing teams. Development occurs in sprints of two or three weeks in duration. The team decides at the start of each sprint how many and which required features it can finish by the end of the sprint. Finish means that feature is ready for production.
If Republicans can find a way to apply Agile principles to the legislative process — a tall order — they can get some impressive and worthwhile results. Read all of Senator Lee's column. It's a good plan, and I think they can do it. But like Agile, it will require discipline.
Note: The author is a certified Agile Scrum Master.