Crisis

The most effective way to get attention, especially in the public sector, is to allow a situation to deteriorate until a disaster is imminent. The crisis forces action, and the result often exceeds what could have been achieved in slow steps.

You see this with buildings on college campuses. The University could ask for $100,000 per year to slowly preserve and modernize an old building over ten years, but that’s a tough thing to squeeze into a budget or fundraise for. But if you do the bare minimum of maintainance for five years, eventually a crisis will arise (leaky roof, dead boiler, etc.). Suddenly the question is raised- fix or tear down?

Often the answer isn’t just fix, but fundraise and fix. Bring in architects to propose new uses, historians to explain the building’s value, and crank up a fundraising campaign.

Suddenly you have support for The Big Plan and $5 Million in donations to make it go, rather than begging for $500,000 over five years to continue the status quo.

I’m not suggesting that this is smart management, because it causes unnecessary stress and is more expensive in the long run. But it is a savvy use of human nature to achieve what might otherwise be unrealistic goals.

Peter

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