My mentor, Russ Ackoff, likes to use the following Peter Drucker quote to describe the current reality in which we live: "We are getting better and better at doing the wrong things. The more of this we do, the wronger we get."
Reading the AP News Flash that Mayor Ray Nagin will be laying off about half of his city's workforce because he has been unable to find the money to keep the workers on the payroll is, to me, the final straw in a series of tragicomic events that has taken place since Hurricane Katrina hit.
My friends, we are truly doing the wrong things...and getting better and better at doing them. This goes for Republicans and Democrats. "It's the systems, stupid!" is really true. But what we don't usually say after making that statement is, "But we're the designers of the system. And what we designed in the past, we can re-design now..and tomorrow...until we get the design right!"
We need to start thinking like the Wright Brothers, my friends...and re-think how we are doing what we are doing...working smarter, not necessarily harder...until we design a societal system that works...for everyone! This automatic, do what the regulations say even in a time of emergency way of operating, is killing people!
I cried for the people who lost their lives...and for the pets that lost their lives...and for the people who lost their homes. But there is NO REASON why half the public employees of New Orleans need to lose their jobs! Not with $60 +/- billion dollars of reconstruction money sloshing around out there!
If the Congress of the United States can pass "emergency legislation" in an attempt to "save" Terri Schiavo's life...then Congress can certainly pass emergency legislation to fund the salaries of ALL public employees impacted by catastrophic acts of God such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After all, it's not as if these employees won't be needed again. It's not as if New Orleans is a company that has been downsized!
We have the power to do the right thing here. This is a case where lack of money (NOT an act of God) is the problem. This is a chance for the American people to experience a power beyond that of donating to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. We should all call our Senators and Representatives and The White House IMMEDIATELY and demand that the employees whose jobs have been temporarily destroyed by these catastrophes be paid their full salaries during this period of national rebuilding!
Are you with me on this???
I will write more on "redesigning the system" shortly. But in the near term, the thousands of civil servants impacted by these events deserve to know that their jobs will be there for them once the rebuilding is over. They should not be required to abandon their careers, because they will be needed when the rebuilding is over.