Continuation of Preventing CP Error #5

To finish up on the last few points in this month’s Brownbag session, we left off in your handouts at IV. Fundamentals for Preventing / Correcting CP Error #5, item C on page 14, this was the last of three (A-C) points.

Here are the rest of the finer points we wanted to relay to you . . .

IV. CP Error #5C: Implementation Geniuses are Flexible about SOME things, and NOT about others

  • Their Mission is NOT negotiable . . . They are intent on accomplishing it.
  • They are very flexible on HOW to accomplish that mission.

These two points are probably a good short-hand rule for getting THIS part of CP Error #5 right.
It’s best if you can get clear in YOUR mind and in your publics’ minds that:

  1. You have every intention of accomplishing your mission . . . that you fully expect to SOLVE the problem at hand, that your Mission is NOT negotiable, and that you WILL fulfill your RESPONSIBILITY.
    But . . .
  2. You DO have an OPEN mind about HOW to accomplish your Mission . . . as long as it gets accomplished! Get them to conclude that you are willing to try to be Responsive to PAIs’ concerns, as long as it does not involve compromising your Mission.

V. The Damage / Costs of CP Error #5

A. Trying to sell the public a bill of goods that you, yourself, haven’t bought into is a truly cynical thing to do.

  • It creates mistrust and disrespect for you and your agency.Don’t EVER contribute to such sentiments!
  • If you DON’T have some Hidden — agenda, goal, objective (and we trust you don’t!) . . . Then you’ll WANT to do each of the 16 technical steps as rigorously, honestly, and transparently as humanly possible!

Here’s the Rub

You may NOT have a Hidden Agenda at all . . . But, if some of your stakeholders THINK that you’re NOT interested in doing the 16 Technical Steps rigorously, honestly, and transparently . . . Then, they will conclude you must have a Hidden Agenda!!!
Creating THAT kind of impression with your public is far worse than shooting yourself in the foot at the start of a marathon race. It’s more like shooting yourself in the knee-cap!
Giving the impression that you DO have a Hidden Agenda is a phenomenally stupid thing to do!
We are continually amazed how many public-sector professionals, who are otherwise sensible, manage to continually do this . . . And, therefore, to keep suffering the consequences of:

  • Mistrtust
  • Suspicion
  • Cynicism
  • Skepticism

All of it feeding already rampant ANTI-government attitudes . . .

It is also demoralizing for you and your team . . . You can’t afford to do that!

B. Refusing to Speak Up for Your Professional Colleagues

i.e. Failing to explain, justify, represent those Rules, Regulations, Standards, Guidelines, and Laws that you are implementing, but instead to just remark “Don’t blame me for these stupid guidelines, I just work here.”

  • This is the quickest, surest, most fool-proof way to create CONTEMPT for you and your agency.
  • There’s NO good reason why ANYONE would want to do THAT!

C. If you become SO responsive where you start to compromise your Mission

  • Your public might LIKE you, . . . But, they will no longer RESPECT you!Realize that if you have an important public-sector Mission . . .
  • Being LIKED is neither possible, nor necessary.
  • However, being RESPECTED is both possible AND necessary.

VI. Important Concepts to Help Prevent CP Error #5

Look at your Decision-Making environment in a holistic way.

“Talking Back” about Technical Steps – especially Judgment Steps — simply amounts to Internal Consent-Building . . . i.e. Getting your boss’ consent to make a mid-course correction in your Planning Process.

For those of you who ARE responsible for the Citizen Participation side of the two parallel processes we often bring up (doing Consent-Building simultaneously as you do your Technical work — those 16 steps):
1. Play the Devil’s Advocate . . .

  • Ask any and all questions a future opponents is likely to ask. Insist that the technical folks give you the ammunition to understand AND answer those questions, so that you can DEFEND the Problem-Solving / Decision-Making process — on EACH and EVERY one of the 16 steps!
  • Remember, finding fault with any of those 16 steps is the EASIEST line of attack, and, therefore, the FIRST line of attack your opponents will use to torpedo your proposal.

2. Get so comfortable and confident with those 16 Technical Steps where YOU will go public — aggressively — with the WEAKEST points in them BEFORE your opponents can go public with them!

All of this is about Consent-Building . . .

  • Developing Informed Consent among internal PAIs that each of the 16 Technical Steps is DEFENSIBLE (i.e. is completed with a reasonable amount of rigor),
  • Developing Informed Consent among external PAIs. . . Ideally, on a pay-as-you-go basis for each of the technical steps so THEY come to the conclusion that what you’re proposing IS the right thing to do!
  • And if not on a pay-as-you-go basis, then AFTER you have done your technical work that: there is a serious problem / opportunity (one that HAS to be addressed); you are the right entity to address it (that, in light of your Mission it would be IRRESPONSIBLE if you didn’t address it); that they WAY you are going about addressing that problem (your Problem-Solving / Decision-Making process) is reasonable AND responsible; and that you DO care (if you’re proposing a course of action that’s going to HURT some interests, it’s NOT because you don’t care, it’s NOT because you’re not listening. . . ).

Recognize that you ARE part of government. Talking in a “blaming” way about other governmental entities breeds disrespect. Moreover, it’s unfair to your colleagues and their work, and it reflects poorly not only on them, but on ALL government — including you!
Don’t give in to the hypocritical temptation to bad-mouth “politics.” Using the term “politics” as if it were a four-lettered word.
When some of your colleagues talk of “politics” as if it were a curse word, point out to them that it’s utterly hypocritical to whine about “politics” while insisting on living in — and in your case WORKING in — a democratic system of government.
“Politics” is how democracies make decisions! Is it complicated? Is it crazy? Of course! But, the alternative is to NOT live and work in such a system.