Americans seem to excel when we are faced with a crisis! My view is that unless we face a crisis with our backs against the wall, or we are between a rock and a hard place we don't take action to do what's needed. Until then, we are too busy with life and personal things than to focus on others' needs.
The onset of across-the-board reduction of funds for federal agencies via sequestration may be the 'crisis' that helps us all pay attention to doing what is needed and what is right. From that perspective, I am optimistic that this crisis is a great blessing in disguise to get smart about funding needed activities, while eliminating less needed ones. With limited funds, we must focus on the things we need and on the people who are going to be impacted. This task-people framing should be maintained in order to keep the ship upright, i.e., a Task-People balance is required. It is about focusing on the most critical activities and expenditures (task side), along with the people needed to work the tasks or who will be affected by the activities.
Forcing the U.S. to critically look at the use of funds has a sense of traversing Maslow's needs pyramid all over again from the bottom up. We are pushed to move from all the things we love to have when at the top of the pyramid to now looking at only the things we need to have at the bottom of the pyramid. The challenge is to determine what we need to have in order to continue to provide products and services to customers.
Before sequestration and the across the board cuts in funding of our government occurred, I was seriously concerned about the financial impact on my business and my life style. Now I view the required reductions in spending a positive thing. I see a silver lining in belt tightening. What is it? It's about getting rid of unnecessary costs, whether in spending on things, projects, or personnel. In a word, we are forced to improve efficiencies and effectiveness. This will require improving leadership performance and work performance from all persons involved. Given the requirement to reduce costs and yet perform one's mission, I suggest that we will find improved Returns-on-Investment (ROI) opportunities throughout the government -- improved returns from less spending!
However, we cannot be mindless about cost cutting. We cannot be arbritrary. Furloughing air traffic controllers would be necessary if all other options were first considered. Such options were not considered and the controllers' furlough was set in place and then rescinded. Doesn't it make sense to determine both the tangible (reduce cost) and the intangible (impact on people) side of a cut before making the cut?? Someone please help our leaders think before acting!!
© Baldwin H. Tom CMC, FIMC