Does this sound familiar?
Someone is newly hired into a position of influence or leadership at an organization. One of the first things they do is propose investing considerable resources into making a big change.
The organization says "yes!" because it's new and different, instead of evaluating the proposal on its merits. Time and money is spent, things are changed. And then the new hire moves on to another organization, leaving things in turmoil. Maybe someone else is hired and the process repeats. Oh no!
Maybe you've seen it play out in these ways:
- A new director of marketing wants to change the logo, tagline and reprint all promotional assets.
- A new website manager wants to change the underlying Content Management System.
- A new lead back-end developer wants to change the underlying software framework or database system.
- A new lead front-end developer wants to redesign the website from the ground up.
- A new CEO wants to change the company from distributed to centralized, or vice versa.
- A new HR manager wants to switch to a new payroll system.
- A new customer support manager wants to switch to a new support ticketing system.
- A new office manager wants to install a new phone system.
- A new finance director wants to switch accounting systems.
And so on.
Sometimes these changes are absolutely the best and most important things to happen at an organization. If it's been avoiding switching to better tools or processes because of apathy or fear, having a new voice in the mix can be just the thing needed to push everyone in a better direction.
But I suspect many times these kinds of changes are being used by the new hire as way to establish their value and power. They want everyone to know that there was how things were done before they arrived, and how things will be done moving forward. And if the new way is derived solely from their personality or preferences, everyone will need to depend on them to figure out best practices.
When these unhealthy dynamics are the driving force behind a big change it can be at best a huge disruption and waste, and maybe even an existential threat to the organization's work, services or products.
Continue reading I'm new here, let's change everything
We're still some time away from the next Mayoral election here in Richmond, Indiana, but whoever is going to run and win to keep or take office in 2016 will have to begin their initial preparations this year.
(A number of people have kindly suggested that I would be a good candidate for the job. I appreciate this and I'm honored by it. But to be clear: I'm not running for Mayor in the upcoming election.)
Before the candidates announce themselves and the conversation becomes about those individuals and their qualifications, I want to share my own hopes for what Richmond will see in its next Mayor.
The legal requirements for running are pretty basic: "A candidate for the office of mayor...must have resided in the city for at least one year before the election." Hopefully we'll set the bar a little higher than that.
The below list is not meant to be a critique of our current Mayor or of any past person who has held the title, but rather a forward-looking inventory of what I think the city needs most right now:
Continue reading Richmond's next Mayor
As a pat of my role on the Palladium-Item editorial board, I have a viewpoints piece in today's paper about Sunshine Week 2012, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.
If you've followed this blog you know that I am a consistent advocate for transparency in government leadership, and the topic was raised a number of times during last year's election season. I appreciate the paper bringing focus to this issue, and look forward to the conversations that result.
Here's the full text of my editorial submitted for today's edition:
Continue reading Sunshine Week: disclosure's benefits justify potential sting
Over the weekend Jon Bischke made the interesting comparison of a start-up company to city government in A City Is A Startup: The Rise Of The Mayor-Entrepreneur. Bischke notes that the factors that go into a successful entrepreneurial effort are similar to the ones that make for a successful city:
- Build stuff people want, offer products and services people want to buy
- Attract and retain quality talent
- Raise capital to get fledgling ideas to the point of sustainability, create a density of "investors"
- Create a world class culture that encourages people to stick around even when times get tough
These may not be comprehensive factors, but they could be useful metrics to view your city with.
If I had to rate my own city of Richmond, Indiana, I'd say we have plenty of room to grow in each area:
Continue reading A City is a Startup
When I ran for office earlier this year, I noticed that a lot of people I talked to thought of themselves as existing firmly on one side of a certain line, and elected officials existing on the other side. It was the "who can be a leader and get things done in our community?" line. For some folks, the implication was that progress and transformation happen only when those elected officials take action, and that everyone else just kind of does their own thing and waits for progress to happen.
Of course officials who are elected and empowered by government to take action are often central to many kinds of community progress. But it certainly doesn't mean that getting elected is the only way to be a leader in your community.
So, I offer this list of Five Ways to be a Leader in Your Community Without Running for Office:
Continue reading 5 ways to be a leader without running for office
All elections matter in one way or another. Every elected official, no matter how unglamorous their office might seem or how routine their work is, has an impact on the lives of citizens in their communities. The City of Richmond has had many elections before and will have many to come, and they will all matter in some way.
But we can't let the shared pastime of grumbling about the machinations of politics and the wearing complexity of government trick us into forgetting that, right now, for the future of our city, this is the election that matters.
As I campaigned during the primary season and met with concerned voters, business owners and community leaders, and as I've observed the economic, social and cultural forces at work in our area, I've come to see that the next four years are going to be a critical time in the history of Richmond, Indiana:
Continue reading Why THIS city election matters
It's an honor and a privilege to have volunteer opportunities to use our time and talents for the betterment of our communities. One common opportunity is to serve as a board member at an organization you care about and whose mission you support.
I've written before about things you might consider when leaving a volunteer board of directors for a non-profit or other community organization. I've also had some good conversations recently about the process on the other side of that kind of community involvement, deciding whether or not to say "yes" to joining a board of directors or taking on some other leadership role. For your sake and for that of the organization, it's important to do some research and reflecting before accepting that invitation, to make sure your involvement is a good fit and that the experience will be rewarding for all involved.
From my experience, here's a list of steps to take and questions to ask when you're considering whether or not to join a board of directors:
Continue reading How to decide whether to join a volunteer board