Saturday, September 5, 2009

September 7, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
As an organization whose vision is raising the level of the lake for all who float upon it, nothing is more critical to our success than strengthening the bond of our professional public servants with those who willingly give of their discretionary time in this noble effort. Therefore, I think it is fitting that as we celebrate Labor Day this year we give recognition to that special cadre of men and women who continue to be so generous with their discretionary time and talent in contributing to the aura of civic transformation existing all about us. People such as Ken Newby, Doug Davidian, Alan Pierrot, Lee Ayes, Pete Weber, Cathy Frost and so many more are personifications of volunteer community service “laborers” walking among us. To all of those who volunteer their services in community betterment let’s dedicate Labor Day, 2009.

Commitment to Renewal—Remembering the Mission
As inventor Dean Kamen taught us years ago, sometimes the solution is not to patch what is broken; it is to start over. One of John Gardner’s last books was entitled, Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society. Whether an object, a person, a thought or a society; decay is inevitable. So the choices are basically hold fast to the status quo, a comfort zone or whatever we believe we are entitled to or embrace change and build renewal into the game plan. As we live in a time of rapid change, the opportunity to reform, literally create new forms, is now. Sustainability, a current buzzword, has more to do with a commitment to regular self-renewal, than stasis. Life is change.

Most of our major systems were based upon thought forms that emerged during the industrial age. In this era efficiency, commodities, precision, conformity, compliance, speed, replication and more is better were common themes. Today, customization, adaptability, nimbleness, project based learning and partnerships, boundary crossing, quality and an awareness of environmental limitations are disruptive thought forms. Pioneers and early adaptors are well down the road in applying new strategies. Government, by its very nature, does not move quickly. But the time has come to ask, if we were to start today, what would we do? What does renewal look like?

California Forward—A Proposed Path Forward
The FBC board will be evaluating the California Forward Reform Plan at its meeting on Tuesday. You can find it and background documents at There are three key themes: 1) Responsible Budgets on Time; 2) Government That’s Closer to the People; 3) Constituent Access and Accountability.

In the details, you will find many of the thought forms we have been using for the past decade--stewardship of the whole, leveraging resources across sectors to achieve major goals, and investing in outcomes rather than spending on symptoms. When something is big or longstanding, it is easy is assume it will last forever or that it is right. However, if it was built on an old thought form, collapse is inevitable. By embracing a pattern of renewal, we will create an adaptive, resilient and sustainable culture.

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