By: Steve Trubilla
Soon we will be ringing in the New Year. You still have a little time to complete goals set for 2014. As you look over the list, if contacting an old friend is still left undone, pick up the phone.
Old friends have a way of dieing before you find the time to get up with them.
Now may be a good time to get your month-by-month 2015 plan and goals together. A better time would have been about three months ago.
One of the first steps taken toward failure upon setting out to achieve something is not starting with a well thought-out plan. Reacting is not a plan.
Often, the best of intentions fail or are sidelined by events controlled by others. Experienced and wise leaders realize this. It is good to start with a plan, and very good to execute that plan with discipline.
Not allowing the least of things to overtake those which are most important can be a real challenge. This is easier said than done when you are trying to balance priorities influenced by things you cannot control.
Effective planning is best served by realizing others may have set out to defeat your plan.
If, for example, the task at hand is draining a swamp, you will find it impossible to do if people are putting alligators in it.
You have to deal with the alligators or they will pull you under.
On the other hand if your main focus becomes the alligators, the real goal and mission of getting the swamp drained is compromised.
This above swamp/alligator illustration is a learning point exercise to provide an approach to problem solving. I recalled it from course material included in a Walton University of Arkansas executive management course I completed many years ago.
The enabling leaning objective was in part to gain the understating that to resolve a problem or issue; you must first know the true nature of it. One could spend endless time dealing with symptoms of a problem, never learning the root cause to chart the correct course of action.
During 2014, in this column, I have aggressively engaged very important issues here in Franklin County. Issues many of you have brought to me.
My main goal was to proactively influence meaningful positive change.
With great disappointment I have to report, while together we have shed light on many of these issues, to a large extent this goal has gone unrealized.
Please be assured it has not been for lack of effort.
Metaphorically speaking, I have come to realize I was engaged with the alligators. The swamp has grown larger. My focus should have been more on those putting the alligators in the swamp.
I believe this has occurred by design, rather than by happenstance. My plan did not sufficiently consider the possibility many charged and empowered to effect meaningful change would actively, and with deliberate intent, work to defeat the goal of meaningful change.
It is counterintuitive for leaders to take such a position and posture in this way, yet overwhelming evidence is present to demonstrate the condition exists.
This year millions of dollars have been spent and high-paying management positions have been added to the list of county employees. Positions filled by people from outside the county.
In 2014 what major accomplishments can Franklin County executives and elected officials point to that has improved the quality of life for the average citizen? What has changed?
The 600 pound gorilla in the room is economic development. Where are the jobs?
Equally, if not more important, where is the strategic plan to bring them here?
It is time to be done with those putting alligators in the swamp and drain it. Across the state other counties are prospering. I could cite many examples.
This year I have written volumes on this, have attended countless meetings, expended more hours than I can remember doing research.
I do not know of even one county executive or elected official standing up in a meeting and demanding an answer to this, or pointedly demanding accountably.
If you know of one, please share the person's name with me. I could be wrong, but I did take the time to reread the minutes from every county commissioners' meeting held in 2014. Maybe I missed something.
Conversely, I have attended many meetings where officials simply refused to answer questions.
I have been personally told by one county commissioner that he did not have to answer questions. Being in the Christmas spirit I will give him a gift and not call him out by name. If you really want to know who it was, go back to some of my past articles, you will find his name.
So long as the same people remain in office, and the citizens of Franklin County accept this, nothing is going to change. This is something to start thinking about now for 2016.
Whose fault is this? Maybe it is yours. What have you personally done to hold officials accountable? Have you attended any meetings or written any letters this year?
2015 will be a brand new year; maybe you should include doing some of this in your plan for it. Think back to this year. Were you just waiting for someone else to do it?
How did you make out?
On the other hand, if you just plain do not care, maybe if you ask nicely, an elected official or one of the county executives making those large salaries will give you a pet alligator for Christmas.