Decisions and consequences
The old saying goes there are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.
Those in the first group are optimists. Sometimes it’s an uphill job to shake pessimists away from their inability to see possibilities.
When an optimist brings a new idea, if other board members are pessimists you would be likely to hear any or all of these responses: We’ve never done it that way before. Why something new now? It has been this way for 20 years so it must be good. It’s too radical a change. You’re years ahead of your time. It costs too much. We can’t afford to hire enough help. We don’t have the expertise. Let’s get back to reality. Pessimists stall projects because none of the ideas get past the talking stage.
Optimistic people might offer such responses as: We have the opportunity to be first. There is always room for improvement. Think of the possibilities. We’ll get a jump on our competition. The investment will be worth it. Maybe we can sub it out. Let’s network with those who know how to do it. We’re perfect for this project.
For those of you who have ever served on a committee or a board, you know it is often difficult to find a happy medium with the three types of people. Sometimes the objective seems to be having meetings rather than actually accomplishing projects. When serving on a board, it can be difficult to reach a consensus. Each member may have their personal experiences with potential projects, or they have ferreted out information from sources, good, bad, reliable or biased, as the cases may be.
There are certainly times when a board needs to say: It isn’t in the budget. Let’s do a study of it first. Some projects are nearly studied to death whereas others are too rushed and are not thoroughly contemplated. Even with the best of planning when reality sets in there are often surprises. Take, for instance, when our county commissioners decided to have a metal detector at the entry door to the courtroom. It may be that the time had come to install one; anyway, they did. Due to the configuration of the stairway, hallway and offices, this new device caused a tremendous bottleneck of people. Was that foreseen and discussed? Since they had the detector and much time and money was needed to obtain it, a different way to access the courtroom had to be found. The solution was to put the metal detector in the basement of the courthouse and on court days people go through the detector down there. Either an elevator or stairs are available to go up the multiple floors to the courtroom. I’m not saying any of this was wrong or right; it just illustrates the difficulties that can arise. Or put in the vernacular of the day, these were unintended consequences. ❖