Sunday, October 19, 2014

Answering the Genie

In my efforts to help civic leaders achieve sustained positive change within their communities I am increasingly relying on a magical genie.

I ask the leaders to imagine that a magical genie shows up at the doorstep of their community and offers to grant the community three wishes. Then I ask them to answer three questions:

1. What would the community's wishes be?
2. Who would decide what those wishes would be?
3. How would the community go about deciding the answers to the first two questions?

Too often, civic leaders have little idea how to begin answering those questions.

In a speech Saturday, Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren reinforced the value of being able to answer these kinds of questions. Of course the Federal Reserve doesn't believe in magic genies (although it has acted as one on behalf of Wall Street at times), Rosengren noted that the Fed's research found communities with a common vision, effective civic leadership and strong cross-sector collaborations are more likely to experience equitable growth.

While no community will ever be promised three wishes, civic leaders can develop the capacity to identify opportunities for positive change and sustain effective collaborations to achieve that change.

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