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Not to be overly blunt, but we’ve grown sick and tired of hearing people complaining about how long it takes state and local governments to make dramatic improvements in the lives of their residents.

Anyone who has been reading this website, or any of our other writing, will know that we’re firm believers that a band of dedicated people working in government can make important changes for the better. But they rarely happen overnight.

Take for example, an article we recently wrote for Route Fifty that focused on a handful of states which are taking important steps forward to create accommodations for potential workers who deal with a variety of “non-apparent” issues including autism. Since these kinds of issues had been ignored in the past, we thought that this was splendid news to share. But one of our readers wrote to us to say that she was “wondering why certain states are more anxious than others to begin these programs.”

We understand the importance of quick action, but also know the complexity of culture, policy and organizational change and understand that it can take a fair amount of time for any initiative – no matter how important – to get traction more widely.

Jumping into new initiatives. without the time for adequate preparation, may be great for elected officials anxious to make quick headlines. But glitter often tarnishes as time passes and efforts go through a rational progression of brainstorming, bringing in stakeholders, finding revenue streams, building a talent base, and forging through a political process that can sometimes favor inertia over momentum.

Carrying this thought a step further, we’ve seen lots of instances when legislation actually moves too quickly to yield a successful outcome. Elected and appointed officials need to take the time and effort necessary to consider how the policy is going to be implemented.

As a PWC study titled, “Are public projects doomed to failure from the start?” stated, “Political decision-makers and senior civil servants often have misconceptions about the capabilities and boundaries of project management. Project deadlines are often set on the basis of political debate rather than a realistic planning effort.”

There’s an unfortunate phenomenon at work here. The more people insist that their leaders make changes overnight, the more likely it is that the new initiatives will not succeed. And the more failures accrue, the greater the pressures to get something new and exciting out the door – especially as election day approaches.

There’s an anonymous quote we like that sums up our case: “Democracy is a slow process of stumbling to the right decision instead of going straight forward to the wrong one.”



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