After Dean lost so badly in Iowa, most think his strategic error was the "I Have a Scream" (YEEAAH!) speech. They are wrong. It was his reaction to the press attention that the speech WON after the election. A warrior learns to think of everything as an opportunity. Losing the Iowa election was an opportunity. The media reaction to the Scream Speech was another opportunity. The real mistakes is thinking and acting otherwise.
In competitive situations, the results are often beyond our control. What is never beyond our control
is the way that we react. We have to think
of each situation as a new opportunity. Dean's speech was unfairly characterized as "anger" by the press. He was yelling to a large crowd
and sending an optimistic message about taking all the other states in the primaries. But the press needs a story. They have been
playing up the "angry-man" image of Dean and this fit right in. Though Dean could not control how they spun it, his real strategic error
was complaining and "clarify" if after word. According to Sun Tzu, you can't fight the forces of Heaven (Tian). You have to
use them to your advantage.
Where was the opportunity in the Scream Speech?. It was
getting tons of airplay. Everyone was playing it. Dean should have
its popularity and gloried in it rather than running away and hiding from it. It took him a week to catch on and start to do comedy riffs on
the speech, probably on the advice of his advisors who know more about strategy than he does. He should have started to use it
the next day. He should have shown up on Leno and Letterman immediately, spoofing the speech. He should have been on Larry
King, 20/20, 60 minutes, and all the rest, not apologizing, but using the opportunity for airtime. He shouldn't have apologized (though this
is what handlers always tell you). He SHOULD HAVE CLAIMED CREDIT, ADMITTING HE DID IT JUST TO GET ATTENTION.
He should have said that he had to get everyone's attention back, playing into the "angry man" image. He should have visibly ENJOYED
the attention instead of resenting it.
The immediate result would have been that the press would have
quit hyping it (since it had changed to advertising) AND they would have
had to deal with his claims about wanting attention. Suddenly, his loss wouldn't have been the issue. His strategic reaction to it
would have been. Dean could have come out of both Iowa and the Scream looking smarter and more presidential.
Remember, the principles of strategy teach that every problem is an opportunity. This is especially true in politics.