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.

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