“Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.”
-Robert H. Schuller
Economic development is about generating opportunity and then making choices about which ones to act upon. Sometimes the opportunity generator and decision maker are one and the same, but most often in public life, they are done by separate groups.
Opportunities are curated by the economic development team and put forth for their boards and elected bodies to discuss and decide. Both activities are tough and should be valued equally.
When the opportunity generator and the decision makers are working in harmony – when they are in sync on the end goal and understand where they are going – the process works fluidly and without friction.
When there is less clarity on the end goal, however, or when the opportunities don’t quite fit into a neat category, there is more debate, friction and, at worst, conflict.
This underscores the need for constant communication and alignment sessions. This calls for patience and understanding. As an economic developer I want to know that the opportunities that are curated can get a fair hearing and be acted upon in a timely manner. Because I am in a place to “get things done,” I tend to want a yes every time.
As a decision maker, I want to make informed decisions and to remove as much risk as possible. I sometimes lament the heavy burden of this, given that there is never enough information or certainty about the outcomes. It is, however, why I ran for office or accepted a seat on a board or commission. It is a luxury to say yes or no. So many others don’t have that choice and are merely clawing to generate any opportunity at all.
We live within the most dynamic economy in the history of the world, and opportunities abound. Decisions need to be made. We must work hard to align and constantly communicate so that informed, smart decisions can be made. And we should consider each activity a blessing and a luxury that many others don’t have.