Doug Randall is a thought leader and advisor on strategic planning, leadership and communications. Through his 20+ years of consulting, he has served Fortune 500 companies and foundations, and was an advisor on analytics and communications to the White House under the Obama Administration. Doug is the founder and past CEO of Protagonist, the Narrative Analytics company. He was managing partner at Global Business Network and the Monitor Group. Doug has lectured at the Wharton School, Stanford University, and National Defense University on strategy, narratives, leadership, and negotiations. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has an MBA from the Wharton School. Doug is a member of YPO. He practices and teaches yoga and is the creator of Swagger Yoga.
What led you to want to join Trium?
I worked alongside Trium on strategic planning projects when I was a partner at Monitor and on messaging and value proposition projects at the analytics company I founded, Protagonist. Whenever I intersected with Trium’s work, I was always impressed. What impressed me most was seeing and hearing happy clients who were making real changes as a result of Trium’s work. Now that I’ve joined the firm, I see why the company is so successful: an amazing team with a relentless focus on delivering results and value to its clients. Combine that with an environment that supports lifelong learning for even its most senior employees, and I just want to be a part of that.
Over the course of your career you have worked across industries, partnered with a number of organizations and seen a lot of what is right and wrong with business. Based on these experiences, is there a problem you see in the business world that you’d like to solve?
Blindspots. I believe that generally people are good, have good intentions, and are resourceful enough to create great things in this world. However, so often we suffer from blindspots – insufficient access to data, limiting beliefs, entrenched biases, etc. – that color our understanding of the world and drive our behaviors. Sometimes these blindspots are clear to everyone except the person who holds them. Sometimes they’re more subtle. I believe our businesses can have a bigger impact on the world and our leaders can be more effective with a greater understanding of personal and systemic blindspots, how they affect us, and how to address them.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
Besides raising a relatively well adjusted, happy, and compassionate family (which is still a work in progress), my proudest achievement is building the Institute For Analysis, which was a public-private partnership I led that served the US intelligence community for over a decade. We launched it in response to the surprise intelligence officers felt as a result of September 11, 2001. Its purpose was to connect the intelligence community with best practices in business and academics so they could manage uncertainty, overcome blindspots, and address the more ambiguous threats our nation faces like terrorism, cyber-warfare, and surprises from non-state actors. We brought methods like scenario planning and narrative analytics to the intelligence community and designed training programs and methods that are still being deployed today. We made a dent in the Department of Defense’s understanding of the impact of climate change on national security, on how the CIA identifies and prepares for emerging issues or strategic surprise, and on how the Obama administration understood and communicated with foreign audiences in a way that resonated.
What has been most influential on how you view business and what’s needed to be successful today?
The power of narrative. The stories people hold have an incredible impact on their success. Positive or negative. True or false (which today we call “fake news”). These narratives can make or break a company and a leader. I believe in the power of narrative so much that I started a company called Protagonist that uses media analysis to identify and measure narratives so that they can be tamed, amplified, or otherwise managed. If you don’t know the narratives driving behavior, it’s very hard to be successful.
Finally, what might surprise people about you?
I am a yoga teacher. I have been teaching vinyasa flow yoga for over 15 years on Saturday mornings. My class combines challenging yoga poses with amazing music, and positive transformational messages. I have a blast doing it, and several students from the class have been with me since the day I started teaching.Back to TriumIQ