Have you asked yourself that? Has your company discussed its direction in 2017? What about asking our new mayor and Metro Council—or our governor and Legislature, who are now in another special session? Does it feel like we are often going around in circles and asking the same questions?
I recently viewed a video by Robert Cooper, Ph.D., neuroscientist, New York Times-bestselling author and leading high-performance business strategist. In this video, which you can see online, he asks: “If you had to become the business that puts you out of business in the least time, what would you do different or better?” (The question could apply to any government agency, school, university or nonprofit, too.)
If you had no limitations and intense pressure to survive, how would you answer this? Necessity is the mother of invention.
If businesses lose money or don’t perform for customers, they will pay the price themselves—and potentially be eliminated. Why is that not the case for all who fail?
This could be an interesting exercise for your business. Would our elected leaders dare to stop playing in the margins and look at fundamental or foundational changes and a paradigm shift? Would they take those risks and think that big—or just hope things get better on their own or with a new tax? (Hope is not a strategy.)
Of course, Cooper points out that our brains, while capable of being amazing, are often not our friends. He says our brains avoid change, magnify the negatives, play small, defer and lean away from the possibilities. Are we guilty of that approach when facing major challenges, as we do today in business and government? Do we do it “the way we have always done it before?”
Over decades, I have found that is often the case in Louisiana, partly because 80% of our residents are native—the highest rate in the country. Our familiarity with “the old way” makes the status quo dominant here. It doesn’t work anymore. Times have changed forever.
Here’s a news flash: If nothing ever changes in the way we operate, then it’s likely that nothing will change in the results. Cooper notes, “Nothing can stay the same. The question becomes, in what direction are you going? You are either growing and rising or fading and falling—and nothing in between.”
Technology has made the impossible possible, and the speed of change is amazing. The internet has expanded markets and increased competition. Public-private partnerships have offered government new alternatives. Online learning has expanded the reach of universities and provided more convenient access to students—and lower costs. There are new solutions to old problems everywhere, but we must be willing to take the chance.
Unfortunately, in Louisiana we have not let go of the relics of the past like civil service in government or tenure in education. Like union rules in police departments. Or pension systems designed decades ago. And having far too many four-year colleges versus two-year colleges. (Thankfully, we did get rid of Huey Long’s 75-year-old charity hospital system and expand school choice.)
These traditional systems have not changed with the times; they stifle innovation and do not reward productivity or best performance. They also escalate costs and pay folks just for showing up—not for results. They are like anchors around our necks, but who has the guts to tackle them?
In this age of accountability, when more can be measured, we must all re-examine our priorities and look closely at the results we get for tax dollars spent (or donor money, in the case of nonprofits). If businesses lose money or don’t perform for customers, they will pay the price themselves—and potentially be eliminated. Why is that not the case for all who fail?
While our governments, universities or nonprofits may be working hard to serve every day with good intentions—and spending millions—Cooper shares this advice. He says, “It’s not how busy you are or how fast you are moving. It’s how effectively you are advancing in the right direction.” Where are we headed as a city and a state? Are we growing and rising? We must all answer these questions, measure results and “think different” as we face a future that doesn’t resemble our past. Are we wise and courageous enough to grow? If not, we will fall, and our children and grandchildren will hold us accountable—as they should. No excuses.
HOW SWEET IT IS
Being an advocate for school choice of all kinds and a staunch opponent to the teachers unions and Democrats who protect adult jobs over the futures of our children, I really enjoyed Feb. 8 and the Senate confirmation vote of Betsy DeVos.
I laughed at the political speeches, rants by union bosses, social posts and protesters trying to demonize DeVos as they witnessed their slimy grip slip away on what had been “their DOE” under former President Barack Obama, worried that their monopoly worth billions might be in jeopardy. I smiled as I read their B.S. about the future of children, knowing that to them this is all about money, power and protecting union jobs. I have seen it up close for more than 20 years. The teachers unions are not about children. And the Democrats go along because of the political clout and grip the unions have around their throats. They have sat idly by while the “government-run public school monopoly” has failed millions of children, including the poor and minority children that Dems are supposed to champion. Now that is the real B.S.
So hooray for DeVos. They can say she is not an educator, blah, blah, blah. But I know this: She cares more about educating children than the unions and Democratic Party ever will. And I appreciate all she has done for Louisiana children for years. I’m excited about a future where the unions are not in control of DOE.
One more thing—I did find an interesting quote: “An all-voucher or all-school choice system would be a shock to the educational system, but the shake out might be just what the system needs … ”
You might guess those are the words of new Education Secretary DeVos, but you would be wrong. It is a quote from liberal U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren from her book The Two-Income Trap, published in 2003. I guess she wasn’t full of it back then.
STAY IN WASHINGTON
Well, it was no surprise to learn that former U.S. Sen. David Vitter is becoming a Washington lobbyist. I suspect he will make a lot more money there than he would have coming home to Louisiana after his debacle in the governor’s race. (How could a Republican lose statewide in a solid red state?)
Ironically, Vitter, who was not popular in the nation’s capital, thought he could trot down to Louisiana and have all the conservatives and Republicans put him into a run-off with the Democrat … and then waltz into the governor’s mansion. NOT!
I have heard nine of 10 Republicans lay the blame for having a Democrat in the governor’s chair squarely on Vitter. His past, along with his mean, brash, vindictive and bullying style made him the one Republican candidate who could be beat by a Democrat. It happened. He should have never run, but then, there is his ego. As the Good Book says, “Pride goeth before a fall.”
Even all the money he squeezed out of donors could not make him electable. It was truly sad. It is best he stay in Washington—and he should keep his sidekick, Kyle Ruckert, up there with him.