Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 27, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
…and so we prepare to say goodbye to another year and welcome in a new one. It bodes to be a year that holds within it an opportunity for all of us to join ever closer together on an ever widening pathway leading to a better tomorrow for all among us. Our degree of success will depend upon our commitment to each other. We must continue to broaden our vision of what we can accomplish as a united community. Philosophical extremism and personality issues are being exposed as counterproductive. Soon those who employ them to keep us fragmented will be overlooked. They are being replaced by effective leadership arising from stewardship-focused individuals and organizations, locally, regionally and statewide. The New Year holds great promise for this region because of this emerging aura of creative collaboration. In that spirit, I wish everyone a harmonious and prosperous New Year.

Looking Back—Two Major Reports Issued in 2000
In 2000, the Great Valley Center released two seminal reports, The Economic Future of the San Joaquin Valley and the Survey of Current Area Needs (SCAN) that struck a chord and mighty response in Fresno. With the assistance of the James Irvine Foundation and in kind support from Fresno State and the Fresno Business Council, the Fresno Area Collaborative Regional Initiative was launched. Similar efforts were initiated across the state as part of a network of regions seeking to address critical economic, social and environmental issues comprehensively. From this platform, two more focused efforts were launched: the Regional Jobs Initiative and the Human Investment Initiative to address job creation and human development. Many specific projects and a wide range of clusters have led to an impressive list of results. In addition, we have learned through experimentation how to apply a new type of thinking (holistic) to complex challenges helping to align siloed efforts and leverage existing resources. 2011 holds the promise of scale and acceleration.

Key Messages From the Economic Strategy
The new economy is innovative, fast, global, knowledge-based, networked and technology intensive. Our challenge is a shift from competing primarily on low-cost to an economy based upon innovation, resilience and diversification. The key recommendations and our community’s response:
• Develop networks of regional leaders (California Partnership for the SJV)
• Create cluster networks (Regional Jobs Initiative)
• Develop an innovative workforce (CART, align workforce with clusters)
• Focus technology on innovation in all clusters
(Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship)
• Support entrepreneurship (Lyles Center, Central Valley Business Incubator)
Along with responses to specific recommendations, we have developed a new culture. Where once collaboration was a noun, today it is all verb and expected.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 13, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
I’d like to share an experience I had last week flying home from Portland, Oregon, in late afternoon. It was raining hard when we departed. After half an hour or so I looked out the window and saw the onset of an inspiring sunset. My first reaction was: “I am back in sunny California.” Then I realized that the reason I was enjoying the beautiful gold and red horizon was because we were flying above the clouds. Transpose those thoughts into what our community is accomplishing by working together. We have raised our collective vision of how high we must set our goals and what course we must take to attain them. Together we seek to bask in the sunshine above the clouds that oftentimes obscure it. Simply expressed, we are becoming recognized as transformational meteorologists.

Spirit of Barn Raising Rising Across California—Citizens Are Leading
At a recent meeting of regional stewards from across California, it was clear that a renewed commitment to personal and community responsibility is well underway.

Los Angeles
At last year’s meeting, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation told of us their effort to engage over 1,050 people across every sector to create their first comprehensive plan to strengthen the economy, improve the environment and invigorate communities. This year, they talked about their execution mantra—“It’s time for everyone to take responsibility for our communities and to be the change.” Their goal is to unify the entire county behind 5 goals essential for regional health. In The Guide: Los Angeles County, every city explains its plan to achieve the goals locally. The goals are:
• Preparing an educated workforce
• Creating a business-friendly environment
• Enhancing the quality of life
• Implementing smart land use
• Building a 21st century infrastructure

In Butte the community and educational sites are teaming up to insure that every child who needs one has a tutor to help achieve specific goals that are monitored monthly. “Tutoring is the back-up plan—quality parenting is the best solution.” Citizens are transforming the chaos around many schools into safe communities. Lesson Learned: Independence leads to interdependence at maturity. Dependence leads to codependence precluding maturity.

Four Spheres Approach Creating a New Culture
Similar goals with the same theme of personal responsibility are part of regional strategies across the state. All share the same civic DNA, a four spheres approach to transformational change that recognizes the interdependence of critical issues and the post partisan nature of durable solutions. As politics follow culture, it is up to communities to be the change they wish to see in politics and elected officials. A unified strategy provides an antidote to fragmented and aggressive single interests.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 6, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Does it seem to you that December is a month of introspection in our lives? It does to me. More and more a great portion of that inward analysis is centered on this Council’s wise decision to base our actions upon the Statement of Community Values of the Fresno Region. Such a position demands introspection in determining how those values contribute to the personal and organizational conduct of our affairs. One of the strongest of these values is “Boundary Crossing and Collaboration – we are willing to cross political, social, ethnic and economic boundaries and partner with others to achieve community outcomes.” The old “I’m right, therefore you’re wrong” attitude has been relegated to the trash can. Supporting this code of conduct is The Fourth Sphere helps us think as stewards of the whole—a prerequisite to the ability cross boundaries. We are learning to think and act as a people-centered collaborative community. That’s a thought worth thinking about at this time of the year.

Looking Back; Looking Forward—Deborah Nankivell
Some of you know that Dick (Richard Johanson) has written two books, A Passion for Stewardship: The Legacy of a Generation and Just a Thought: Reflections on Civic Transformation. As the president during our formative years and chair emeritus ever since, his messages carried in our bulletin and shared with those who have the privilege of working as his colleagues, are like the rudder on a sailboat. He remembers “why” and has the courage to remind others. We have learned much about what it takes to achieve community transformation over the past 17 years. The most important lesson is insuring that stewards are leading—those that remember why. Sustainable effort requires passion and a commitment to something greater than oneself. Many have said the WWII generation remembered something those following have forgotten—the price of freedom, the importance of community and that adversity builds character.

Infrastructure Sphere
At our upcoming board meeting the Infrastructure, Land Use and Transportation Task Force, chaired by Dick Johanson, will be offering their report and recommendations. In April of 1998, the Growth Alternatives Alliance issued A Landscape of Choice: Strategies for Improving Patterns of Community Growth. At this time, collaboration was considered bold. The Alliance included unexpected partners—Fresno County Farm Bureau, Fresno Chamber of Commerce, American Farmland Trust, the Building Industry Association and the Fresno Business Council. At the time, the leaders of these organizations recognized that working together was in both their self and collective self-interest. This sphere, largely the province of government, requires a broadly supported community agenda and steward leaders in order to deliver projects that can take over a decade to complete, well past the terms of most elected officials.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 23, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the rewards of living in the middle of the most productive agricultural climate in the nation is the expectation of having a bountiful harvest each fall. While the springtime blossoms may determine the volume of the harvest, it is the cultural practices during the maturation period that determine the quality of the end product. So, too, it seems to me, is the progression of our political processes. Our March primary is when we plant the seeds which we expect to harvest in November. The time in between is when it is up to us to till the political soil and determine which seeds hold the most promise for a quality crop. In only a few weeks, our eyes and ears will once again be filled with arguments for a particular variety. It is up to us to make our selections wisely. In agriculture it’s called horticultural practices. In the political arena it’s called Democracy In Action.

Four Spheres Workshops—New Operating System
As we set out in 2000 to address the structural issues of the economy that prevented greater prosperity and allowed concentrated poverty, we learned many things. Central to our education was the recognition of interdependence--that without an equally strong focus on infrastructure, both built and natural, and the development of our human potential we would at best be addressing symptoms. Transformational change requires a new thought framework coupled with changed behavior—a new culture. At our most recent workshop, a number of our institutional leaders offered their insights. As the “bones of the community” our institutional leaders, together with thought leaders, create the foundation and the framework upon which we all build. In a world of interdependence, collaboration at the level of action is not enough. We must begin our thinking together, act behind a shared strategy and become a learning community.

Some of the key thoughts:
•The first filter is citizen. Through this lens we all have a responsibility to the whole.
• Know your assignment and get into alignment.
• Maintain focus on what you can achieve with excellence.
• We must lead from a place of understanding how the pieces fit together.
• We must invite people into partnership—government alone is not the solution.
• Our social fabric has remarkably improved. Act with the expectation of cultural change.

Results Shared:
• Grundfos decided to build a research facility in Fresno. Key reason—The Water and Energy Technology Incubator at Fresno State.
• 32% increase in college going rate at FUSD. Key reason—partnership between Fresno State and Fresno Unified.
• Signs of gang activity dropping—Key reason—leveraging law enforcement, social networks and faith-based groups.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 16, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Our members and partners have already heard about the network of regional leaders that emerged from the Collaborative Regional Initiative (CRI) work that began over a decade ago. This movement championed the notion of three interdependent development spheres (economic, infrastructure and human) that must be advanced together to build prosperous and quality communities. While the work of the network has been described in our bulletin, the voices of our partners and information about their local initiatives have not. In today’s bulletin you will hear about the Economic Development Corporation of L.A. County and Valley Vision in Sacramento. Be inspired. Be hopeful. Get engaged. While on the surface CA is clearly struggling, underneath a new approach is well underway. Old ideas created institutions and systems that simply do not work in today’s reality. Sometimes the answer is to simply let go and begin again.

From the LA County Economic Development Corporation
“We are really pushing hard on the implementation of L.A. County’s consensus Strategic Plan for Economic Development. We recently secured the unanimous endorsements of four of our county’s six regional COGs, representing 79 of L.A. County’s 88 cities, and are expecting all five to come on as implementation champions shortly. On July 14th, the City of Los Angeles unanimously voted to support the plan and directed the City’s Chief Administrative Office to see how the plan’s recommendations can be integrated into the activities of (and supported by) the relevant City departments/agencies.

Most important, we continue to leverage and expand the consensus developed during the planning phase by reaching out to the broader public speaking at events, forums, town hall meetings, etc. not just here in Los Angeles, but up-and-down the state. We continue to “pound the table” on the same overarching message that it is time for us to take responsibility for the health and vibrancy of our communities; we cannot rely only on our public officials/electeds to effectuate the transformational change that is required.
It’s been very exciting b/c what started as just a “plan” really has become a developing grassroots movement to serve and transform our communities. (To check out the plan go to http://www.lacountystrategicplan.com)

Valley Vision—“Action Tank” for the Capital Region
Another partner in the regional network is Valley Vision--a vast network of people and organizations dedicated to securing the social, environmental and economic health of the Sacramento Region. The organization serves as a platform to research, plan and problem solve when community challenges require collaborative solutions. As we explore the restoration of the local food system, a continuing focus on agriculture, water and energy, and expand focus into rural communities, Valley Vision’s successful work offers us tools and insights we can build upon. Check out www.valleyvision.org.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
What better time than the dog days of summer to step away from the hectic pace of our lives and take a look at the larger picture. Recently, I learned about a memorial installed on the New Jersey shoreline across from Manhattan honoring those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers tragedy of 9/11, a gift from the Russian people to Americans. I would urge that you check it out. Search for Tear Drop Memorial and read the story. You’ll come away impressed once again that despite all of the hate and violence in our world, there does exist a compassionate core of humanity. You will also come away feeling that in our local efforts, we are an integral part of universal efforts to make our world a better place. May we all be inspired to continue our quest by the aura of the Tear Drop Monument.

Lessons Learned—Collected by the Leadership of Duncan Ceramics

• When we focus on the things that unite us, we can resolve the things that divide us. When we focus on the things that divide us, we destroy those things that can unite us. Thomas Jefferson
• If you can get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.
• It’s not what you are that holds you back; it’s what you think you are not. Dennis Waitley
• INNOVATION is the foundation to a company’s competitive advantage.
• Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein
• The opposite of excellence is the acceptance of mediocrity.
• Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. Samuel Johnson
• Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. Henry Ford
• You may be thinking great thoughts, but if you don’t get them across you have failed.
• A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner. English Proverb
• Don’t find fault, find the remedy. Henry Ford
• Be a thermostat, not a thermometer; made it happen, don’t just measure it.
• The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear. William Jennings Bryan
• Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress. Nicholas Murray Butler
• Tough times never last, tough people do. Robert Schuller
• A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results. Author Unknown
• Not failure, but a low aim is a crime. James Russell Lowell
• Change must be accepted as the rule rather than the exception. John Welch, Jr.
• We must first risk going too far if we are ever to know how far we can go.
• Falling isn’t failing unless you fail to get up. Mary Pickford
• Our greatest accomplishments are realized through the help of others. Althea Gibson
• You’ve got to believe it before you see it. Robert Schuller
• Never give up, never give up, never give up. Winston Churchill

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 6, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Recently I had the opportunity to study a white paper explaining where our region and country could be within the next couple of years if we came together and to maximize the human resources available to us. High among the stated priorities is the need to put aside dogmatic political posturing and agreeing upon common solutions to major problems. One way the paper proposes to do this is through the creation of private sector “Solutions Councils” to work with all levels of civic administration. Clearly, some regions have already taken bold and enduring steps in this direction. The Fresno Business Council, founded in 1993, was launched with this approach in mind. The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley is another example. Our partners in the network of regional stewards across California offer additional models. Each sector and discipline has strengths and weaknesses. By aligning our assets (the Asset-Based Approach) and maintaining a Commitment to Outcomes and the Resolution of Conflicts, our future is rich with promise. The choice is ours.

A Job, A Better Job, A Career—Personal and Workforce Development

In many meetings, Assemblymember Juan Arambula has talked about an individual’s path to prosperity—a job, a better job and a career. While some are satisfied with the first step, others are motivated to rise to the highest level of development they can achieve. As a community, our prosperity is tied to the same trajectory. How do we create environments where individuals discover their unique talents and have the tools and opportunities they need to develop to their highest potential?

Recently, many of us involved in the Regional Jobs Initiative had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Ford Motor Company Fund. They have launched a partnership with educators, employers and community leaders “to develop a generation of young people who will graduate from high school both college and career ready—an emerging workforce prepared to compete successfully in the 21st century economy.” While clearly, high level technical skills are needed, their approach blends many disciplines in order to prepare students to think critically, solve problems, communicate effectively, work well on teams, innovate and look through a global lens. Woven together, this package of abilities will yield a productive and innovative workforce and engaged citizens and effective parents. For more info: www.fordpas.org or www.fordnglc.com. This is the shift from industrial view of education to a customized and sustaining one.

The work focuses on three learning initiatives:
1. Transform Teaching and Learning (project based and applied learning)
2. Redesign High Schools (collaborate across sectors and disciplines)
3. Sustain Change Through Business and Civic Leadership (Political will requires a shared agenda and strategies)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 14, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Has it occurred to you that one of the greatest frustrations we face as we try to transform this place from Good to Great is being among those who cannot disagree without being disagreeable? Many of the just concluded election campaigns are a case in point. For those of you who are members of the FBC or interested in becoming one, I encourage you to attend our membership meeting this Wednesday morning in the Alice Peters Auditorium at the CSUF Craig School of Business. Be sure to park in the space marked by UBC flags. I predict you will depart inspired by all that is happening. Transformation surrounds us. Be there and get a first-hand report. If you have not already, please let Deb know you are coming at Deborah.Nankivell@fresnobc.org.

The Future of Leadership—John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems
As every sector and organization has struggled to adapt to rapid, multi-dimensional change, the pressure on leaders is intense. The training most received is dated and the culture where they once thrived is gone. Now what? In a recent column in Newsweek, John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco Systems offered his thoughts. His insights clearly apply to our work as we partner with others to build a great community.

From top down to collaboration:
When asked how he has changed since he assumed the CEO spot in 1995, Chambers explained that when he started he thought his job was about vision, strategy, team building and communication. Within 5 years he understood the critical role of culture and his responsibility to drive and reinforce a great one. He spoke to the dramatic shift underway…. “from command and control to collaboration and teamwork. It sounds easy to do, but it’s hard, because you are trained the old way in business and law school. Today, 80 to 90% of the job is how we work together toward common goals, which requires a different skill set.”

From siloes to multi-disciplinary teams:“..there’s a fundamental change that may be really important to the future of business in this country and the world…we are moving to collaborative teams and training leaders to think across siloes. We’re going to train a generalist group of leaders who know how to learn and operate in collaboration teamwork. I think that is the future of leadership.”

Implications For Our Community and Region
Since the planning began for the Collaborative Regional Initiative in 1999, an increasing number of people have become committed to operating in accordance with a set of ten community values. Many have become literate in three areas of work—economic, infrastructure and human development. They understand how the pieces fit together and that they are interdependent and equally important. Stewardship of the whole and collaboration across boundaries are at the heart of the work. We have rediscovered the fine art of barn raising and one by one major issues have been added to the “to do” list as champions have emerged to tackle them. These champions know how to think across disciplines and leverage the knowledge and resources that are already in play. Life-long learning is a must no matter what position one holds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of my greatest privileges is being able to attend meetings of folks committed to the future of our kids. The first was an inspiring meeting of Street Saints, a faith-based peer to peer group making a positive and expanding impact on young people primarily focused in west Fresno. The second was the San Joaquin Valley Business Leader Summit on Early Care and Education. There is a growing community awareness that the K-12 system cannot successfully educate students if they have not received appropriate pre-school training either at home or in a more formal setting. A Chinese proverb sums it up this way: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” Let us all be tree planters.

Economist and Nobel Prize Winner Explains ROI and Kids

Many have made the case for investing in young children. What we haven’t done is get strategic about how to do it to scale recognizing that the people most responsible for doing so are the parents. However, if they cannot or will not, communities must decide whether or not they will step up. An economics professor at the University of Chicago, James Heckman, decided to study the impacts of school readiness programs for children growing up in disadvantaged homes. He learned that our major economic and social problems—crime, teenage pregnancy, drop outs and poor health—are largely the result of low levels of social ability. Attentiveness, persistence and impulse control are essential skills that must be developed intentionally when role models who have mastered them are lacking. Neuroscience underscores this finding and emphasizes the importance of brain development ages 0 to 5. We have a lot of assets and committed people interested in filling this gap by changing the underlying conditions and meeting the needs of children today. We must align the tactics behind a shared strategy to succeed. “I’d rather pay now to open the door of opportunity for our kids than pay later to shut a jail door behind them.” Chief Jerry Dyer.

Often Overlooked Community Asset—Air National Guard (ANG) Fresno
You may have seen the planes fly overhead but not have given a thought to the implications. The National Guard is the oldest armed service in America, originally formed as a militia to protect the colonies. Since then the Guard has played a major role in every war. The base in Fresno uses local infrastructure, including the airport runways, and is one of the most cost effective bases in the US. Its mission is to provide air defense for California using the F-16 Fighting Falcon. They protect ports, nuclear plants, and airports from Mexico to Ukiah. The Guard also responds to state emergencies when called up by the Governor. During 911, the Fresno base responded 3 hours faster than any other base. The ANG provides nearly half of the Air Force’s tactical airlift support, combat communications, aero-medical evacuations and aerial refueling. It bears full responsibility for the air defense of the entire United States. Most of the members of live and work in Fresno. They participate in local philanthropic efforts, provide outstanding job opportunities and help build the local economy. To find out more, go to www.144fw.ang.af.mil. Thank you to Mike Budd, both for your service in the ANG and for providing the opportunity for us to tour the base and learn about the essential role the Guard plays locally, nationally and internationally.

Full Membership Meeting Scheduled for Wednesday, June 16 from 7:30 to 9:00 AM
Please Save the Date

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
The longer I attend Board meetings of the Fresno Business Council, the more convinced I become that we face no challenge larger than creating awareness among our membership and broader community of the scope of our collective successes and opportunities. Unless one is exposed to the diversity and the depth of the work going on, it is difficult to understand the impact of these efforts and the reasons for optimism. Leaders of institutions and organizations are learning the skills of collaborative stewardship as we work together to address challenges so complex and multi-dimensional that no one working alone could fully understand or resolve them.

What Have We Learned
As a number of us are putting “lessons learned” to paper, one of them is the value of exploring best practices from other communities. The reality of the global economy, decentralization of power and shifting demographics was anticipated decades ago. Cities and regions across the country have been experimenting with new ways of doing the community’s business for years. In some communities, pioneers went out early to map new approaches while in others the status quo futilely tried to deny change, seeking to patch rather innovate and are lagging far behind.

The FBC is committed to active learning across many disciplines. Along with other communities, we are on the hunt for a new civic DNA. A number of my longtime mentors wrote a book entitled: Boundary Crossers: Community Leadership for a Global Age in 1997. They distilled ten lessons from civic efforts across the country. Knowledge becomes wisdom when you experience it as true and begin to live it. As many of us are experiencing these lessons, I thought you would find them useful:

1. The table gets larger……and rounder.
2. The only thing more challenging then a crisis may be its absence.
3. The agenda gets tougher.
4. There is no magical leadership structure—just people and relationships.
5. No one’s excused.
6. Sometimes the old ways still work.
7. Collaboration is messy, frustrating and indispensable.
8. Government always needs reforming, but all reforms need government.
9. Place matters.
10. It’s never over.

To Sum It Up—John W. Gardner
“What we need, and what seems to be emerging in some of our communities, is something new—networks of responsibility drawn from all segments, coming together to create a wholeness that incorporates diversity. The participants are at home with change and exhibit a measure of shared values, a sense of mutual obligation and trust. Above all, they have a sense of responsibility for the future of the whole city and region.” In Fresno, the Four Spheres and the Community Values provide a framework and operating system reflective of the lessons we have learned through doing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Recently I heard a marvelous presentation on conflict resolution and mediation. The focus was on the way we espouse our position on public policies and personas. How do we overcome the temptation of distortion and alienation in promoting our desires on sensitive ballot issues and candidates for public office? What was most interesting is that research has now established that some people have a generic deviation in their frontal lobe which contributes to their vocal combativeness. My conclusion, therefore, is that as we go through our bi-annual election year process with all of its oftentimes abrasive rhetoric, we each place a greater emphasis on what we believe is deeply rooted in the proponent’s conscience rather than what we read, see or hear as part of the overt campaign process. That compassionate distinction, it seems to me, defines Democracy.

RJI Annual Meeting—May 26: Staying Ahead of the Curve—Save the Date
Kudos to RJI cluster leaders and participants who are making steady progress in learning how to leverage public and private resources to strengthen companies and industries. There are currently 11 clusters—Construction, Clean Energy, Manufacturing, Logistics & Distribution, Tourism, Food Processing, Public Sector, Arts & Culture, Software and Water. On May 26 from 7:30 to 9:30 AM, you will have an opportunity to learn about specific accomplishments and future initiatives. In addition, there will be a financial panel to explain how to access capital through various programs. Our keynote will be Dr. Serve Pierre Besanger. He is an economist and strategist with 26 years of experience in 20 countries. He has chaired numbers boards and served as an advisor to over 50 leading companies and institutions on three continents.

Smart Valley Places
Issue by issue we are learning how interdependent solutions to critical problems are. The foundation for a strong economy and healthy neighborhoods is infrastructure—how it is designed and developed. As many issues have regional impacts, the notion of Smart Valley Places has emerged. Smart Valley Places is being developed as a regional sustainable communities network in the Central Valley. By using smart tools, plans, polices, and practices the intention is to integrate economic growth, social equity, environmental quality and resource stewardship in planning and acting. Through a deeper understanding of long term ramifications, we can be more intentional about the community’s business and achieve greater success in all spheres of work.

Fact-Based Decision Making
At the beginning of each board meeting, we discuss one of the ten community values to keep them top of mind. As science continues to reduce facts to myths and assumptions, the importance of humility has grown. While often unconscious, how we think and our motivational biases can prevent us from seeing the obvious or being open to equally valid, yet different perceptions. Like the blind men describing an elephant, what you believe may have more to do with where you are standing than what is true.

April 12, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
After being present for over thirty thousand sunrises over our beautiful Sierras, I remain convinced that one of the highest rewards of a long life is being inspired by people and events that surround us. Among the highest of people inspirers in my life are those dedicated men and women who are unselfishly giving of their time and talents in developing programs designed to improve the quality of life for all among us. It is to the credit of so many community-minded members of the Fresno Business Council that they are high among these inspiration creators. Because of those who care so deeply, each day we grow closer to the dawn when we shall celebrate the attainment of our long sought civic transformation. That’ll be an inspirational sunrise worth working for. Let’s bring it on!

UC Merced Offering Class on Energy for Sustainability in Fresno, May 14 & 15
Government policies will have a large impact on which technologies are developed and which communities prosper as we shift away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. UC Merced is offering a class on energy for sustainability in Fresno. The course is being offered on May 14 and 15 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the UC Merced Center—550 E. Shaw Avenue. For more detailed course information and to enroll: www.unex.berkeley.edu/merced . For more information call 559.241.7512.

The course was designed for professionals in private (utility, renewable energy, clean tech, building design/construction) and public sectors, who wish to advance, switch or begin careers in sustainable energy related functions across commercial, industrial, residential, corporate and government sectors. City/community planners, facility managers, energy officers, architects, engineers, project managers, developers, builders, contractors, urban planners, municipal agencies, policy makers, energy consultants, environmental services, sustainability managers, business managers, non-profit agencies who are interested in a broader, deeper understanding of sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, or green building; decision-makers and individuals who recognize the importance of planning renewable energy communities and their global impacts will also find this course of interest.

One Option—Nuclear
Many of you may have attended the EDC’s special event to hear Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of the French nuclear energy company, Areva. The Fresno Nuclear Energy Group formed three years ago to explore the possibility of an energy park in western Fresno County. The park would feature solar and wind technology in addition to nuclear. The package would decrease energy costs, create jobs, build the economy and improve air quality. Clearly, the more people who are well informed about opportunities, possibilities, and long term implications the wiser our collective community will become and the better decisions we will make. To learn more about the EDC Clean Energy Cluster call 476-2500 x 115.

March 22, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
I’d like to share a tribute with you this week. This is the time of the year when we all enjoy the visual delight of our orchards in full blossom. Later in the year we shall relish the fruits and nuts harvested from them. What we all too often forget is that the harvest cannot come without pollination of the blossoms by busy worker bees. So too, it seems to me, it is in our world of community transformation. It all begins with the euphoria of developing plans and programs for our social and economic betterment. However, unless we find the problem solvers, the stewards and those with the dignity and discipline to move them forward, these noble plans will fall to the ground like unpollinated tree blossoms. Therefore, in this time of enjoying nature’s beauty all about us, let’s take some time to also recognize the vital contributions of all of those who are working quietly and effectively to make our upcoming transformational harvest a memorable one. They are our worker bees. Why not become one if you are not one already?

Four Spheres and Community Values—Bookends of Transformational Change

Economic Development
In 2000, when the Collaborative Regional Initiative (CRI) first launched, Fresno was a very different place. Most believed our economy would remain one dimensional and low cost and that poverty was inevitable. Ten years later, the Regional Jobs Initiative has changed the way we do economic development. Core leadership includes the Economic Development Corporation, the Workforce Investment Board, Fresno State, the Lyles Center, County of Fresno, and the Fresno Business Council. The implementation team includes many more organizations. The change—we link, align and leverage resources of multiple disciplines behind a shared strategy. With dramatic changes in the economy, work is underway to adapt and expand into rural areas.

Infrastructure Development
This sphere of work has many projects and initiatives underway from TreeTOPS to arts and culture; from affordable housing to Smart Valley Places. Organizations are supporting one another to improve both our natural and built environment. All are essential to improving our economic development prospects and overall quality of life. What’s different?—communication and points of leverage. As a community we have learned about critical issues within each sphere and are finding solutions by crossing boundaries.

Human Development
Building upon what we have learned about collaboration in the other spheres, a number of experiments are underway to remediate poverty and improve key systems. The City’s effort to empower residents and improve the environment in Lowell has all hands on deck. Many departments at Fresno State have stepped up along with other organizations and City departments are working together in new ways. The Mental Health Cluster envisions a new approach to this critical issue with the theme, “We have met the solution and it is us.” (Siegfried, Pogo’s asset-based twin brother) Watch for details of a major public event on April 27.

Fourth Sphere—The Whole
While some due to position or natural talent are responsible for the whole, we are all responsible to the whole. Our choices impact others. Let us be conscious and intentional.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

March 1, 2010

Important and Uplifting Event Coming Up
Be sure to save May 20 on your calendar for the NFTE regional business plan competition banquet. NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), offered through the Lyles Center at Fresno State, is student by student changing the culture of our region. The primary aim—helping young people from low-income communities build life-long skills and unlock their entrepreneurial creativity—is relevant for everyone. Critical thinking, problem solving, a belief in possibilities, the passion that develops discipline—all are essential to thrive in this century. Nearly 600 students have gone through the program this year and only the top 5 will present their plans at the event. The 4th annual banquet will be held at International Catering beginning at 5:30 AM. To register or more information go to www.lylescenter.com. If you are interesting in sponsorship, contact ajohnston@csufresno.edu. If you are curious about the path to becoming an entrepreneur, send an email request and you will receive a PowerPoint slide.

Governing Magazine Showcases Solutions From Other States
As California remains locked in polarized finger pointing and strangled by self and single interests, Indiana and Detroit found solutions—go after transformational change and create a separate, independent and empowered team focused on one thing—instituting big changes. Mayor Bing convened a crisis turnaround team that is recommending a total revamp of city operations. Stay tuned on execution. In 2005, Governor Daniels and the Government Efficiency and Financial Planning Department reordered the 73 agencies and more than 300 boards and commissions that made India unmanageable, unaccountable and inefficient. The state also embraced innovations and spent less money than they took in as revenues. As a result, Indiana has been able to fund infrastructure without raising taxes and has a health fiscal outlook. When the problem is structural, there cannot be enough small fixes to add up to solution. As Sun Tzu taught--the solution is both a comprehensive strategy and the relentless execution of tactics:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 15, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the most interesting agenda items at our Board of Directors meetings has been a member report on one of this region’s “Community Values”. Last week Peter Weber made an excellent presentation on “Commitment to Outcomes”. He went to the core of the ongoing civic transformation efforts in our community. He stressed that while concepts are preliminary to progress, they are ineffective unless they are brought into reality. “Commitment to Outcomes” arrives when individuals have traversed the hanging bridge that spans “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”. We are deeply indebted to those who have made the trek.

The Importance of First Principles In Times of Rapid Change
Where you begin your thinking about a problem has everything to do with what you come up with as a solution. As our organization is committed to finding solutions to the critical challenges we face economically, environmentally and socially, the Community Values have provided a useful lens through which to craft strategies and guide behaviors. The verbs associated with a Commitment to Outcomes are: “We are willing to take responsibility for tasks and achieving specified outcomes. We are committed to staying involved until the tasks are completed.” When the values were first written down in 2000 as a proposed new operating system, this value had more to do with getting past the “someone oughta do something”, plans sitting on shelves phenomenon that had replaced the traditional barn raising, all hands on deck culture of our past. In Fresno, we know it is about both being strategic and relentless action. Thus, at the meeting the focus of the discussion was about the difference between results and outcomes and the critical importance of both.

Results and Outcomes—Tactical Actions Aligned Behind A Shared Strategy
Global outcomes like prosperity, an educated and healthy populace and a quality environment are the responsibility of everyone. No sector or organization has enough authority, resources or talent to achieve these goals, but everyone has a piece of the puzzle. Unlike outcomes, results are more easily measurable, often within the control of a specific entity and typically follow a linear pathway. A focus exclusively on results often leads to bureaucracies and competition, while a shared focus on outcomes inspires innovation and collaboration. The big challenges we face as a community, state and nation will require us to think globally and take personal responsibility for our part in the solutions. Both the RJI and HII were designed to be adaptive frameworks and aimed at outcomes. Our community assets are plentiful and when we decide to more fully align them, we will scale and accelerate both results and outcomes.

Find Your Passion and Take Action
The following quotes honor both the importance of inspiration and taking action.

In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 1749-1832

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” Thomas Edison 1847-1937

“The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do and an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work.” Jim Collins, Good to Great 1958

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 8, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the qualities that makes this nation great is our ability to come together in times of crisis. Whether it was the Twin Tower destruction in New York City, nature’s rampage in New Orleans and environs or the recent devastation in Haiti, our people set aside their often strident differences and unites in focusing on their inherent compassion for those who were hurting. Have you noticed that we are seeing some of that same concern in the emerging conduct of our national, state and local affairs? As we struggle to extricate ourselves from this nation’s most serious economic depression in seventy years, we are witnessing this same spirit of an ultimate oneness in maximizing the effectiveness of our democratic processes. Solutions do not come from an inflexible polarization of issues. We are beginning to understand that by bringing differing opinions to a common table for a collaborative solution, we enhance the opportunity to hasten the return to national economic normalcy for all among us. That, in brief, is the ongoing mission of the Fresno Business Council.

“Compete”—From the Latin—To Strive Together
In many arenas, we are learning that we must collaborate to be able to compete. Human development—our ability to better ourselves and our culture—has been a central focus for decades. One region, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, has crafted a framework that has gained the attention of major foundations, government and other communities. Their website is www.strivetogether.org. Some of you may remember Stan Oken’s efforts to promote Whole Child. Dr. James Comer put an entire system together to be integrated into schools to develop the whole child and many have done so with strong results. How do we scale and accelerate what have been outlier performances in individual cells to permeate and transform the whole system? Strive Together may well have pulled together the intellectual, financial and social capital to make it happen and like Roger Bannister, may have broken through a barrier that releases many others to do so. Collaboration and values are central to their efforts:

Strive Together includes:
• the educators who teach;
• the nonprofits who support teaching and well-being;
• the philanthropies that provide financial support to both;
• the elected officials who create policy change;
• and the corporations who need a local, skilled workforce.

Participants believe that education:
• must be holistic, because what happens outside of school is just important as what happens inside of school;
• providers must be accountable and make decisions based on data;
• is a cradle to career endeavor, and that working together is key to eliminating the “cracks” that children might fall through;
• must be fair so that every child, regardless of circumstance, can find the support they need to achieve their dreams.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 25, 2010

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
One of the greatest uppers of living in a democratic society is the opportunity to freely elect those whom we wish to serve us at various governmental levels. One of the downers is that for the next ten months we shall be bombarded with political pleas of support from various candidates for office. I offer the following as a litmus test in determining our selections as we progress through the many upcoming campaigns. Does the person seeking our vote subscribe to our Community Values? Is that individual a “my way or no way” moat surrounded castle dweller or a “together we can” community builder? Would that person be a welcome member of this Business Council? Just curious!

Downtown Is Everybody’s Neighborhood
Downtown revitalization has been a priority for many organizations for years. Success requires leadership, clarity of purpose, broad community support, talent, relentless perseverance, and resources. Are we ready?

The following is a message from our downtown revitalization manager, Elliot Balch: “On Thursday, January 28, at 9:15 am, the City Council will consider approving a contract to create new laws for development in the Downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods. Why are these new laws, known as the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan and the Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan, necessary? Because the current laws are confusing, unclear, contradictory, out of date, and often counterproductive. It's the current laws that have caused frustration among Downtown developers, and allowed poorly designed development to harm some of our best older neighborhoods. It's the current laws that are costing builders thousands of extra dollars and months of extra time for every project. By discouraging investment and driving down property values, outdated planning laws today are costing the City millions of dollars in property tax revenue each year, not to mention preventing the revitalization of our downtown and perpetuating the concentration of poverty in surrounding neighborhoods.

Dozens of cities across the country have made their downtowns the easiest places to develop by adopting Specific Plans that provide more appropriate land use laws. More and more cities are adopting new zoning codes that set clear standards to protect older neighborhoods. The best Plans involve the community heavily so that the new laws reflect their vision for the future. And it will all happen in Fresno -- if the Council votes on January 28 to get the process of creating the new Downtown Plans going. There are several ways to get involved:

• Come to the City Council hearing on Thursday, January 28, 2009, at around
9:15 a.m. You can just watch, or speak up during the public comment period.

• Tell us if you support the Downtown Plans at www.surveymonkey.com/s/downtownplans. By giving us your email address, you'll also be signed up to receive updates as the Plans are developed, plus other news from the City of Fresno Downtown and Community Revitalization Department.

• Tell your City Council representative how you feel. Call (559) 621-8000 to speak to staff for your Council Member about the contract for the Downtown Plans.

• After contract approval, look for updates at www.fresno.gov/downtown.
We'll be posting news of upcoming Plan-related meetings and events, especially those where the community is invited to come help make important decisions. We will also post images and documents for public review.”

For more information go to www.fresno.gov/downtownplans.pdf, www.fresno.gov/CouncilDocs/agenda1.28.2010/915.pdf or call 559.621.8350

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 18

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Welcome to the first issue of our Weekly Bulletin in this new decade. As a background note, the gap in distribution of the bulletin was due to an extended leave of our CEO—a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru. I also greet you with a thankful heart for the major accomplishments of our community during the past decade. We have traveled a transformational journey in creating the awareness that by coming together as an extended collaborative community we can attain our mutually defined goals. May those of you who carry the torch through this decade see the fulfillment of this Council’s Vision Statement adopted almost seventeen years ago.

A New Location for the Fresno Business Council—February 1

As of February 1, 2010, the CEO’s office of Fresno Business Council will be inside the Fresno Regional Foundation. The new address is 5250 North Palm, Suite 424, Fresno, CA 93704. (The same building). The new phone number will be 559.226.5600 extension 106 and the fax is 559.230.2078. It is impossible to measure the value of Deloitte’s 16 year hosting of our CEO. Productivity and job satisfaction have much to do with the people around you and the space you fill. On behalf of the Fresno Business Council and the community it serves, thank you to our long standing partner in transformational change—Deloitte!

Meeting of the California Stewardship Project at Stanford University
For over a decade, regional leaders in California have been working together to find effective ways to address complex issues and lead communities in this time of global and rapid change. “Developing innovative regional solutions for California’s most pressing economic, environmental and community challenges” has been the driving thought. In Fresno, the model we developed is a Four Sphere approach based upon a ten value operating system. At the Stanford meeting, Dr. John Welty, Dr. Alan Pierrot, Pete Weber, Ken Newby and Deborah Nankivell shared their perspectives on both the process and the yield from their long term engagement. If you are interested in the PowerPoint with narrative that tells the story or the background document focused on outcomes, simply make the request via email. As a leader from one of the newer regions noted, “your work has saved our community five years.”

“The Biggest Threat to California is State Government”
While every state and community is struggling to find a path out of the fiscal crisis and discover models for governance that match the realities of the 21st century, California’s size and complexity has made the challenge greater. We are a state of regional economies with dissimilar assets and problems with a one size fits all government disconnected from the realities of communities. What emerged from the meeting at Stanford is a willingness to work together as united regions to support transformational change recognizing that we are all Californians. We will keep you updated via the bulletin on current developments. Thank you to the Morgan Family Foundation for sustaining the network through the California Stewardship Project.