Tom Hanks cried out, "There's no crying in baseball." Mr. Canfield of Daily & Woods basically offered up the same when confronted with billing allegations. He might as well have said, "There's no paper trail in busy signals." No CPA audit will uncover wrongdoing when the defense is "we bill for busy signals."
The truth is, as a near half-million account, the City was hardly being treated like a favored nation. The truth is, the City hasn't negotiated their contracts like one either. The truth is, it's a "business as usual" "don't fix what isn't broken" "comfort cushion" approach that is showing signs of fraying.
To err is human, but to err again and again is another matter. We know we have intelligent and competent folks at the helm. The problem is in processes. We have seen no evolution in them. The problem must be at a systemic level. It's not about finding fault with our legal billing review, it's our unwillingness to recognize that if we had to do things all over again, we would have done them differently. Likewise for the billing agent, it's not about justifying the bill, it's about admitting they've been gouging a primary and faithful customer.
When Data-Tronics (ArcTechnologies) reported in study session that the problem with providing software services is in resistance to change, its clear that change is what is needed. At one point, the city had two assistant administrators, was that a better operating strategy? If leaner is better, what is keeping problems and their solutions from being presented, new advances from coming forward and strengths exploited? Are our key players attending enough learning conferences and web-based seminar? Are our innovators rewarded or thwarted and is our talent properly cultivated? Maybe its a simple matter of moving to a new facility to permit new interactions and spark some creative thinking.
It seems that whatever is in place is what has been in place without evolving. Just one look at what is happening at ArcBest is evidence to know that business as usual is not a compelling way to move forward. Change and innovation are not guarantees, but they are often gateways to something better.
It's time to look more into how we work instead of pointing fingers at those we know are truly capable of good things. It may be that we jumped the shark awhile back, but its obvious we're on the other side. Let's look at the root cause as to why the directorship of our city continues to put out fires instead of building new bridges.
Will we now see true leadership in action? Daily & Woods: buck up and recognize your culpability and move forward with billing reforms; City Administrator: fess up and admit to a gap in oversight. Restructure and modernize your organization; City Directors: stand up and resolve to drill deeper beyond a knee jerk reaction; and Mayor: speak up and call a shark a shark.