I finally understand what “Running government like a business” actually means! The truth is a Game Changer

Many a candidate has run for municipal office on the promise to “Run Government More Like a Business!” and it sounds like a good way to lower our property taxes. I have written before about the inherent flaws of the logic, given that we have an office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to deal with the hundreds and thousands of businesses that are insolvent on an annual basis. Having said that, there is a just a simple emptiness behind the promise because, like a lot of jargon, it sounds good but ultimately means nothing.

So I guess I can say this about the 2014 candidates who won seats on our current Council: They are, indeed, running the City like a business. And it has finally dawned on me what that actually means: “Hide behind buzzwords and corporate jargon and hope no one notices” … just like they do in Board Rooms across the country every day.  Which is why I cry rust coloured rage tears every time I have to listen to City Leadership discuss local issues.  It’s hard to grow and develop the City as we simultaneously try catch a deluge of “Game Changers” in a paper cup; and as we struggle to find new footing as they are just constantly “Changing the Status Quo.”

Put another way: “Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

We don’t need Jargon.  We don’t need Buzzwords. We don’t need to “Garner Buy In to our Core Competencies so we can Drill Down and Think Outside the Box in order to Right Size the organization in line with our Stakeholders’ expectations; develop Bench Strength behind our Change Network to build Critical Mass and create Deliverables or solve issues in Real Time. If we want to do more than Nail Jello to the Wall, what we really need to do is Hit the Nail on the Head if we expect to Hit the Ground Running.  The Paradigm Shift from Herding Cats to Socializing the Plan will create the Ecosystem to Get on the Same Page with the Future Ready initiatives that will Value Add as we get Down to Brass Tacks in all Industry Spaces and Increase the Footprint.”

We need ideas – because Ideas are the calories that nourish cities.  Ideas on how to grow our City, to nurture the things we love about the City, address the needs of our citizens that aren’t being met, and make room for future growth and development. Ideas to improve transit, foster affordable housing, create job and education opportunities for our people, address climate change on a local level, create enough day care and physical activity spaces for our people. Ideas to make our living space more, well, liveable.

This blog was started because someone accused me of not having any ideas. *True Story* And here I am, again, accusing our leadership of lacking ideas, and offering none of my own.  I’m a terrible person, it’s true, and I should never be Mayor.









Oh, that reminds me, I was thinking that Sandalwood Parkway and Williams Parkway should look like this, with even wider Active Living Corridors than the one you see on the left, to accommodate road Running and Bicycle courses for Half and potentially Full Marathons and other races:


(this is the streetscape adjacent to Olympic Stadium in Montreal, if you want to see it for yourself in person)

And I was thinking that Centre Street and Rutherford Road, to name just two streets that this applies to, should look like this, to add a sense of charm and walkability to our “suburban sprawl” neighbourhoods that have been accused of lacking character:

belmont village

(this is the entrance to the swanky Belmont Village neighborhood of Kitchener, Ontario, the picture doesn’t do it justice really, but you can stop in when you are riding the KWLRT since this is only a block away from an LRT stop)

Both of these initiatives would not only increase neighborhood livability, but would directly address the desires of citizens to increase the sense of charm and character of our city, as well as create viable active living street routes for physical activity, health and wellness.

But that’ just me, being a terrible person. I really should work on that. And Ideas. I should work on coming up with some ideas.

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