Every place has its own way of tackling difficult issues. Some leave the decisions to elected officials. Some decide things by referendum. An increasingly popular way of facing up to difficult issues and making hard choices is by creating a task force and asking it to recommend a course of action.
The appeal is obvious: The recommendations can be more focused and objective, and less political, than depending solely on elected officials. By inviting others in, you broaden support for solutions. And, not coincidentally, it can take some of the heat off of elected officials when hard choices are made.
But before handing over your city or state's most difficult problems to a task force, be careful. There's a critical path to success. You have to get the right people on the task force, frame the mission precisely, help members assemble and work through background information, find ways of bringing citizens and groups into the process, and have a clear decision-making process so the task force doesn't flounder.
In other words, it helps to have an experienced task force manager. At Civic Strategies, we've designed and managed numerous task forces on subjects ranging from taxation alternatives and urban walkability to statewide economic development. In fact, we've written two brief papers on the art of managing task forces. One is about how to manage task forces at the community level, the other about the more complicated process of managing them across an entire state.
Want to learn how we can work with your organization in creating and managing a high-profile task force? Contact us.
"If you want people to rally to a cause, it has to be about them, not the cause. But there aren't a lot of marketers and organizers who start with the premise of 'What's in it for our helpers?' "
"He consulted much, pondered much, resolved slowly, resolved surely."
Describing George Washington's process of decision making
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