Bill Wallace: Micromanagement
May 20, 2007
I attended the Steamboat Springs City Council meeting last Tuesday and really learned a lot. No kidding! I arrived at about 5:45 p.m. to show my support for our Green Team’s recommendation to the city to create a staff position. As it turned out, our agenda item didn’t come up until well after 8 p.m.
In the interim, I ended up sitting through what seemed to be an interminable presentation about predicting Triple Crown economics. What I learned didn’t have much to do with softball or baseball. My take was that the City Council has taken micromanagement to a whole new level.
For those who weren’t at the Council meeting, here’s how the economics discussion went (well, sort of):
Consultant on the Triple Crown economic model: “So, as you can clearly see on slide 147, if you take the square root of the average length of softball bats and:”
City Council: Zzzzzzz
Total elapsed time: More than an hour.
In contrast, here’s how it might have gone had the Council stepped up to the plate (pun intended) and resisted its apparent overwhelming urge to micromanage.
City staff person: “Per City Council’s request and with the help of an experienced consultant, we developed an economic model that will allow us to calculate the cost and economic benefits of holding Triple Crown softball tournaments in Steamboat Springs and around the region. The model enables us to look at many different scenarios and will be a very useful tool when it comes time to make decisions. We’ve tested the model and find it to be sufficiently accurate to meet your needs as well as ours.”
City Council: “Great! Next item.”
Total elapsed time: Thirty seconds.
My guess is that most if not all City Council members must dread the prospect of the Tuesday meetings, knowing that they will have yet another long, unproductive and mind-numbing experience. The Council owes it to the citizens of Steamboat Springs and to itself to raise the level of governance – exercise more discretion over what it needs to hear and rely more on the competence and judgment of City staff.