Mitt Romney appears to be the front-runner as Republican candidate for the next Presidential elections. His journey towards nomination has been described as ‘a potholed road-map’. Leaders We Deserve examines the metaphor
The metaphors of map-reading, map-testing, and map-making have been applied to leadership ‘journeys’. The metaphor also crops up in political writings as ‘road maps’ leading to peace.
The Fiscal Times applied the metaphor to the road to be travelled by Mitt Romney who appears increasingly likely to be the Republican candidate to oppose President Obama in the next Presidential campaign.
In the view of most political professionals, the race for the Republican presidential nomination is essentially over. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney … has a 20-point lead [Jan 5th 2012] over his nearest rival in recent polls [which suggests that] most Republicans will quickly coalesce around him as the inevitable nominee… Of course, that doesn’t mean that Romney’s road to the nomination is free of potholes.
On maps and journeys
It is more precise to say that the map is of territory through which a journey must pass. The map indicates the road to be travelled. The Fiscal Times believes the road will be one which will not be easy on to travel, hence the pothole reference. Students of leadership may have noticed how in in everyday speech we may mix up the map with the journey. (Kark Weick likes to say that ‘the map is not the territory’.
The Fiscal Times has written about the likely political journey for Mitt Romney and examined the map and the route to be taken. This is mostly Map reading. The article then attempted to understand the journey better (map testing).
A complication: maps within maps
This map-testing suggested that the road would be a potholed one. Note how the author of the article has to outline a personal map, and incorporate a ‘reading’ of Mitt Romney’s possible mapping processes. And you may also have noticed, that I am now reading and testing the article’s maps. Don’t get too hooked on these ‘maps within maps’ . They conform to a systems theory of recursiveness which means the ‘maps of maps’ replicate the structures found in the simpler ones. You can satisfy yourself on this point if it an unfamiliar concept, by doing more ‘map-testing’. You will find that the basic structure will stay the same, although some features will change from higher level to lower levels of recursion.
So back to Mitt Romney’s journey
The Fiscal Times tests the suggestion that the Romney road is full of potholes by pointing to the challenges from other candidates who have become front-runners from time to time. These are metaphorically the potholes or challenging aspects of the journey.
Potholes and dilemmas
It sometimes helps map-testing to look out for a leader’s dilemmas. Here the potholes are signals of implied dilemmas. The article tests the pothole theory by describing Romney’s support, which is sticking stubbornly at 25%. Romney needs some way of dealing with the dilemma of low support, while being hailed as the front-runner.
Divide and rule (and ‘map-making’).
The article addresses this dilemma by citing an earlier article suggesting a leadership strategy for Romney. The suggested strategy is to avoid attacking other candidates, leaving them to attack one another. It is a divide and rule strategy. It is also an example of map-making.
More about divide and rule strategies
By coincidence, a similar map briefly became headlines in the UK, where the divide and rule strategy also figured. It involved the politician Diane Abbott in accusations of racism after an exchange on Twitter. There may be some value in comparing the two maps and the bumpiness of the journeys ahead for those involved.