Creating A New Cabinet for a New Country

THE CHALLENGE

The Sandinistas rode into power in Nicaragua, having banished a hated dictator. Ten years later the rescuers had become the tyrants, living large in one of the world’s poorest countries. They had lost sight of the needs of their own people and were modeling some of the same characteristics of the disempowered despot. In a brash display of arrogance, they agreed to free elections, believing that their past triumphs still held emotional sway over their more recent indiscretions, corruption and high living. 

In the quiet and safety of the polling booths, the people threw the rascals out. The country elected Violeta Chamarro, the martyred widow of a fallen hero, without a single day of political office or experience running a business let alone a country. What she needed was a trusted cabinet of wise leaders to help guide her fledgling government. What she had was twenty-five friends, relatives and opportunists who wanted, for a variety of reasons to be part of the new regime and her inner circle.

THE PROCESS

Violeta gave TNG three days at a hacienda outside Managua to reduce the twenty-five contenders to fifteen of the most talented resources she could trust. Using a half-dozen designs, TNG built on the nationalistic fervor and pride gripping the group, and with them created a vision of the possibilities for their beleaguered country, along with the political foundation essential if their vision was to be realized.  It was one of those rare instances when egos and self-interest were trumped by the national good and the love of their country. The result was that what was needed and demanded from among these leaders were identified, and that made the choices within the group easier.  Providing a blend of necessary structure and support, it helped that we were brought in from the outside without any history with the group. They needed expert facilitation skills and TNG’s ability to handle the highly charged dynamic of the group. 

THE OUTCOME

Relief and hope, joy and laughter were the outcome during the celebration on the last evening when the Nicaraguan sunset ushered in a new day for the cabinet and the country. Most gratifying was that all twenty-five toasted that new day, together.