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Leader luncheons and the 6035 plan

Wed, Nov 18, 2009

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“Community Leader Lunches” follow a familiar script.

They take place in one of four venues: the Antlers, The Broadmoor, Cheyenne Mountain Resort or Penrose House.

You arrive, park, get your name tag and table assignment, spend a few minutes schmoozing and sit down.

You eat your salad. You eat your bread. You make polite conversation with your fellow sufferers. In desperation, you eat your faintly repellent chicken. A prominent person comes to the podium. He/she introduces the politicians in attendance. Polite applause. You listen to the featured speaker. You are subjected to videos, slides and a PowerPoint presentation. More polite applause. You leave.

Yesterday’s luncheon at the Cheyenne Mountain resort was intended to kickoff the implementation of the “6035” plan for regional economic development, prepared by Angelou Economics.

Angelos Angelou, the company’s founder and CEO, gave a thankfully brief and notably lethargic presentation outlining the challenges and opportunities that face our community. He concluded by saying “Ask not what economic development can do for you — ask rather what you can do for economic development.”

Somehow, paraphrasing President John Kennedy’s eloquent call to action to serve such a pedestrian and parochial goal seemed inappropriate. It reminded me of some particularly tasteless commercials aired during the Broncos-Redskins game, during which shots of our greatest national icons (the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) were overlaid by images of beer bottles.

But that’s OK — now it was time for action. 6035’s organizers pledged that this particular community planning process would be very different from any previous iteration! It’s time for action, not words! And here’s what we heard.

An “implementation committee” had been created. The six folks named thereto are all, as Mick Jagger might have put it “men (and women) of wealth and taste.” And what would the committee implement?

With the help of a $100K grant from El Pomar, they plan to hire a “leader” by the first quarter of next year, to move forward and, like, implement the plan.

The luncheon concluded with a puzzling sequence of cheesy-but-inspiring video clips from Braveheart, Patton, Mr. Smith goes to Washington and a dozen other films, in which selfless leaders exhort their followers to persevere and conquer. It was a sad commentary upon the power of YouTube to add yet another layer of awfulness to already awful events.

OK, I’m being snarky and negative, making fun of my betters who are striving against the odds to keep this dull-witted city afloat. I plead guilty — but suppose that the organizers of this luncheon had opted for action, instead of stasis. Suppose that they’d taken a risk, and tried to show the city that its leaders can act, not just agree to hire someone to figure out how to take action.

Suppose that all the members of the implementation committee had stood before the 300+ attendees and said something along these lines:

“El Pomar has pledged $100,000 to the Pioneers Museum, on the condition that the people in this room collectively pledge $50,000 right now. Show the community that we can act, not just talk. We’re putting up a thousand bucks apiece. This isn’t a test — the media’s right here, the TV cameras are running. If the folks in this room can’t do it, who will? Success or failure — it’s up to you.”

Now that would have been something to behold — and instead of making fun of the  “lads and ladies who lunch,” we media bottom-feeders would have something fun and uplifting to write about. And who knows — if I’d been horsecollared by one of the implementers, I might have written a check myself.

Is it OK if I post-date it?

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Kevin Walker Says:

    John,

    This is from today’s CSBJ edition . . .

    “Colo. job creation lags surrounding states”

  2. Community Stakeholder Says:

    John, I too was at the luncheon and I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the “action” that took place. We must live in an alternate universe if hiring a “top level executive” making more than $100k a year to take 18 months to set up meetings is a “new model for leadership.”

    This is going to be some meeting. If only I were “VIP” enough to be in the room. Alas, my last best hope is that you’ll be able to squeeze in beneath the cracks and chronicle the events for us on your blog.

  3. Dave Hughes Says:

    Some of us have economic visions for Colorado Springs that are specific but far beyond what local ‘business leaders’ are prepared to implement. Based on the principal that we can have economic growth without corresponding – and costly – physical growth (heresy!) And based on developing an economic culture of ‘exporting brain power’ over the Internet , while importing dollars.

    But I didn’t go to the luncheon because I already read in draft form the 6035 ‘plan’ and did not see anything really original, with promise.

  4. cFowler Says:

    As the late, eccentric management philosopher Russell Ackoff was fond of saying,”The more efficient you are at doing the wrong thing, the wronger you become. It is much better to do the right thing wronger than the wrong thing righter!” EDC was founded on the need to counter a local government gone mad with abuse regulatory power — the right thing. Since then, it has mostly pursued the wrong thing by playing a bidding game that it can’t win against other communities with different things to offer. We have a lot to offer — I didn’t need Angelou to tell me our comparative advantages. Did you? Our focus should be on finding the creative entrepreneurs who will start and grow their businesses here. Who see a competitive advantage to having their business here. Who want to live here. Collaboration is nice — networking is better. Quit swinging for the fences — we just need to get a guy on first …

  5. Dick Burns Says:

    What we really need, of course, is a new rugby stadium. Where’s El Pomar when you really need them?!

  6. Lon Says:

    Hey Dick, check out http://invictusmovie.warnerbros.com/

    I am sure you will appreciate the power of rugby in breaking down the walls of aparthied in 1995. A true and inspiring movie starring Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon and directed by Clint Eastwood. Most countries get the power of rugby.

  7. RJF Says:

    PowerPoint Presentations are the tool of the unimaginative!