Elected Officials Should Avoid The Reorganization Trap

Robert Behn, a lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kenndey School of Government writes an interesting Performance Leadership Report on a monthly basis. In his most recent report Behn offers advice from Tony Williams who served as Mayor of Washington , D.C. for two terms and prior to that as the District’s Chief Financial Officer reporting to the Financial Control Board.

Williams spoke at a session recently where he offered advice to newly elected mayors. While new mayors will certainly be struggling with financial problems, Williams focused on the importance of management and he suggested that the new mayors should not waste time, energy, or resources reorganizing. According to Williams the key resource a mayor has is talented people.

Talented people like everyone else have only 168 hours in their week. It is Williams’s opinion that instead of having talented people get caught up in reorganizing let them focus their talents on producing real results.

As Behn states in his report:

Nearly half a century ago, Charlton Ogburn writing about his World War II service in Burma on Merrill’s Marauders” observed: “We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized.”

Perhaps the advice offered by Williams is something that all newly elected officials need to think about as they come into office with a great deal of enthusiasm. What do you think about the advice of avoiding the reorganization trap?

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply