Friday, July 17, 2009

Under Promising & Over Delivering

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?
Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.


Management gurus advise against the the habit of 'over-promising and under-delivering'.
But, actually following this wise counsel seems extraordinarily difficult, doesn't it?
Just the opposite would be preferable, plus the surprises would tend to be more positive!

Because people routinely promise things they have no intention -or possibility- of achieving, there are always folks who want to believe that their wishful hopes will be realized, even if there does happen to be a measure of empty rhetoric involved.

Imagine any public official or candidate for public office who isn't tempted to promise or promote things he/she knows are desired by the voting public.
That is certainly an integral part of getting elected and reelected, because it does reflect the priorities and the 'will' of the community, at least at that moment.

But, what about those who prefer to influence public opinion who are not publicly elected or appointed?
Aren't most of us in that category one way or the other?
By seeking to influence public opinion, we are all well within our rights and responsibilities; in fact we'd be abrogating our role as citizens if we did not exercise that role.

What troubles me the most is when certain individuals or groups abuse public sensibilities by repeatedly offering outlandish, deceptive or unsustainable ideas or proposals.
More specifically, the proliferation of so-called public 'initiatives' sponsored by people like Tim Eyman have long ago crossed the line of reasonableness.

Yet, the abuse continues, while our State Legislature seems continuously at a loss about how to deal with this process, caught as it is between making potentially useful measures available for periodic public voting and effectively dealing with clever 'issues' that are created mainly for their mischief making value.

An interesting article in Crosscut written by Floyd Mackay sheds light on the the latest Eyman initiative, I-1033, and parallel initiatives over time in Washington, Oregon and California.

I don't have an answer to how public initiatives can be better handled, but several ideas have been discussed that have potential for improvement.
In the meantime, the best course to follow seems pretty simple, if a way to insure it can be found -and that is a big 'if';
be scrupulously truthful and balanced manner in presenting proposals for public approval.

Another way would be to reverse the norm, and practice this blog's title.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. --attributed to ABRAHAM LINCOLN