“Suspend Disbelief”

Your government agency may have embarked upon a journey to improve customer service in the development processing system. A number of significant changes may be anticipated, including a more co-located “one-stop” development services center, shifting to a project-oriented approach when processing applications, and an enhanced information technology and communication system. Can these changes happen? They can, but you must challenge staff and yourself to “suspend disbelief”. What is this challenge you ask? This challenge begins by looking at the basic definition of disbelief.

Disbelief, n. 1. the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true. 2. amazement; astonishment.

It is no secret that making changes in government can be difficult due to a number of challenges brought about by funding shortages, unclear authority to make changes, and the difficulty in gaining customer and elected official support. “Suspending disbelief”, very simply, demands that all staff and customers involved in the change effort keep an open mind, “park” their current biases or department views, and assume that system changes can and will happen.

“Suspending disbelief” usually starts with a blank page. Forget what your current perspectives, and possible obstacles, are telling you when working to design and implement a recommended improvement. Think creatively! Look for the best possible customer service solution. By “suspending disbelief”, you don’t ignore solutions that would otherwise appear unfeasible in normal city or county government mode of operation. Believing you can accomplish something often removes barriers that would otherwise keep you from pursuing a perfectly grand idea or solution.

Experience has shown that if an idea is a good one for service, customers will support you. If customers support you, then typically your elected officials will support you. You will be surprised to see how “obstacles” will be removed when everyone is in support. I think we can, I think we can…. therefore it will.

Yes, this approach does require a leap of faith. But if the ideas are sound (they help implement the regulations and support great customer service), what have you got to lose? Staff and customers are empowered to come up with the best solutions, and most of all, you get to dream a little. And maybe if you “suspend disbelief” for long enough changes will happen and you will be “amazed” or “astonished”. Give it a shot. Suspend disbelief!

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