I won't print the spoiler here, even for a 50 year old book, but you don't have to be a fan of "Catch 22" to guess that everything is not under control. Everything is not going to be all right. Yossarian, in fact, has been working on the wrong problem all along.Next he began binding the compress in place with a roll of gauze. The second time around Snowden's thigh with the bandage, he spotted the small hole on the inside through which the piece of flak had entered, a round, crinkled wound the size of a quarter with blue edges and a black core where the blood had crusted. Yossarian sprinkled this one with sulfanilimide too and continued unwinding the gauze around Snowden's leg until the compress was secure. Then he snipped off the roll with the scissors and slit the end down the center. It was a good bandage, he knew, and he sat back on his heels with pride, wiping the perspiration from his brow, and grinned at Snowden with spontaneous friendliness.
'I'm cold,' Snowden moaned. 'I'm cold.'
'You're going to be all right, kid,' Yossarian assured him, patting his arm comfortingly. 'Everything's under control.'Source: Catch 22.
After the jump, why the Richardson city council's goal setting exercise reminded me of Yossarian's first aid.
No, Richardson's city council is not at war. No, Richardson's city council is not dealing with matters of life and death (not directly, not imminently anyway). If death and taxes are the only sure things in life, the city council deals primarily with the latter. Taxes and zoning and trash collection and alley repairs and screening walls and playgrounds and hookah lounges and dog parks and parking and HOV lanes and bike lanes and shade trees and, well, you get the idea. There's a lot on the city council's to-do list. Is everything under control? Is the city council even working on the right problems?
The city council came out of a series of planning meetings with twenty pages of goals for their two year term, an unprioritized grab bag of goals with no coherent overall strategy of what the council is trying to achieve. Now, the council is working on an associated set of "near-term action items." You might think the council would first prioritize their goals, then develop action items to drive progress on those goals, with special attention to the most important goals.
You might think that, but you would be wrong. Instead, the process of developing the near-term action items, as far as I can tell, was to take the action items left over from the last council and step through them one by one, striking action items considered complete and adding new action items as they sprang to mind. No effort was made to ensure correlation between the just-agreed-to goals and the action items being developed. For homework, each council member is prioritizing the 60 or so action items on their list. There was no discussion of the criteria to be used to prioritize. The twenty pages of goals were not themselves prioritized to help with this latest exercise.
Does this process put you on the edge of your seat waiting to learn where the action item "Advocate for Richardson access points for the HOV lanes on Central Expressway" will come out in the combined rankings? No? Are you more curious how such a pointless action item made it onto the list at all? Then, come sit by me. There is no goal in the twenty pages of goals dealing with the HOV lanes at all. One council member laughingly dismissed the chance that DART or NTTA or whoever makes such decisions will ever grant Richardson's desire for HOV access points. Still, it's now an action item for the city council. An action item in support of no goal.
Are you on the edge of your seat waiting to learn where in the prioritized list this action item will land: "Form a community development corporation that can hold land and engage in other economic development transactions in redevelopment zones"? The answer is simple. It won't be in the list at all. It was one of the action items suggested by Andrew Laska at a recent council meeting. Because it was raised during "visitors" section of the meeting and wasn't on the agenda, the council could not deliberate the matter during the meeting. And, from what's been made public since, it hasn't been deliberated since then, either. Maybe no one took notes. Or maybe no one read the minutes. Or whatever. This suggestion didn't even make it onto a first pass list of potential action items for the council to deliberate. It fell into a black hole as soon as it was uttered at that earlier council meeting, never to be heard from again.
I'm not insisting that the council adopt Laska's idea. But it was a big deal. It potentially could have a significant impact on Richardson's redevelopment and future prosperity (or decay). It deserved consideration. My own suggestion, offered here in this blog, is a little idea. That is for the city to give some kind of public feedback, any kind of feedback, to matters raised during visitors section of council meetings. My suggestion didn't make it onto the list for consideration, either.
The council should have prioritized the goals first, then focused on developing action items to make progress on the top goals. The council should have solicited hundreds of ideas for action items - from themselves, from city staff, from members of the public - then applied their judgment as to which ones would be most effective at furthering their goals. In that case, it would have been understandable if my own little idea didn't make that cut. But when the goals aren't prioritized, when there's no discernible connection between goals and action items, when ideas (big or little) don't even make it onto an initial brainstorming list, it's a sign of a defective process. And because of that, it's impossible to say that the council is even working on the right problems. The bandages they apply to Richardson's ills might be clean and secure and snipped exactly as they want, but everything is not necessarily under control. Everything is not all right.