Question #3 from March 2011 Brownbag

A fellow planner from Alaska asked the following: “How does one identify people who CANNOT be moved up from the ‘Over-My-Dead-Body’ position?”

Because this is a question we often hear from public officials, we think it deserves an answer on the Blog.

If our friend in Alaska had gone through our SDIC course, he probably would not have asked that question, and here’s why. . .

He would understand that:

  1. If you are addressing a serious problem – or opportunity – one that just has to be addressed (i.e. it meets the 1st and 2nd Laws of Public Administration), and
  2. If you are the appropriate entity to address the problem (i.e. Your mission, which was established by the public through its political process, requires you to address the problem), and
  3. If the Problem-Solving/Decision-Making process (that you are using to analyze the problem and generate the full range of alternative solutions) is reasonable, sensible, responsible, and
  4. If you not only listen to your various Potentially Affected Interests (PAIs), but also make your public realize that you are listening to them . . . especially to those PAIs whom you are impacting negatively, then, . . . it IS possible to move the “Over-my-Dead-Body” opponents up to where they become at least “Grudging Consenter.”

Whether you move them up or not is up to you; it’s not up to them. More specifically, it depends on how good a Consent-Builder you are!

Implementation Geniuses are like Professional Athletes

  • Asking us, your Consent-Building coaches: “What about those PAIs who will never go along?”
  • Is a lot like asking a golf coach: “What about those golf-balls that just WON’T go into the cup?” . . .
  • That coach would probably tell you what we’re telling you: “Don’t blame the ball, or the wind, or the course . . . If you do YOUR part right, the ball WILL go in.
  • And so similarly, we will tell you: “Don’t blame the PAI who doesn’t change their tune from being an ‘Over-My-Dead-Body’ Opponent, or “politics,” or our system of government. Instead, figure out how you failed to get their Informed Consent, and then keep working to get it!”

This analogy is no exaggeration. After all, if you see phenomenally good golfers, it is UNBELIEVABLE the control they have over that ball! (Friends who had tickets to the US Open at Pebble Beach – which is just a couple of miles from our house – gave us tickets for the day they could not attend. And, that’s what we did: we followed a couple of these phenomenally good players around the course. The skill these people have is stunning!)

Well, that’s what it’s like to watch Implementation Geniuses communicate with their publics . . . which, of course, always means . . . how they communicate with their OPPONENTS — their fiercest opponents. Like professional golfers who flock to the hardest courses, Implementation Geniuses put most of their effort into the most challenging PAIs.

Because it IS stunning to see what Implementation Geniuses do, that’s why we have been studying them and their methods for the last 40+ years. There’s NO COMPARISON between their approach to public outreach and what most agencies do . . . !!!