12/19/11

Judge the Results, Not the Process

Last week I had three conversations (complaints, really) about the sometimes clumsy, often pedantic, frequently laborious, and occasionally mind-numbing decision-making process of Mississippi Mills Council. In each case, I asked that people not judge us during "the construction phase" of policy, but on the final result.

Case in point: On November 8, the Recreation and Culture Committee debated the merits of a proposal by a citizens' group to revitalize Augusta Street Park. The group, under the supervision of Calvin Murphy, our Recreation Director, wanted permission to begin work on the park before winter. They were volunteering their time and were asking for no money in the first phase. Their park revitalization concept had been accepted at a previous Council meeting.

After a tedious debate that had some audience members chuckling and others wincing, Council sent the plan back to the organizers. As a group, we waffled and wavered, and may have looked like a den of doofuses. Because we were handing a park's future over to volunteers and because some funds will be needed, several members were being particularly careful.

Four weeks later, on December 5, Council approved a five-phase plan (with details of phases 2 to 5 to be fleshed out) and committed $5,000. The group got the support it needed—just a bit more slowly than expected. And Council was comfortable with the result.

In short, the process worked. It may not have been pretty, but it was effective.

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