Dear Businesses, Are we victims of our own success?
Businesses have one thing in common. Whether they face the public or are buried in obscure and complex supply chains, they succeed or fail by their ability to meet the expectations of clients and customers. A successful business does that seamlessly, without friction. A business that fails consistently (or sometimes only once!) contracts or quietly disappears from the scene. Those left standing make it look so easy. By design.
Customers and clients – us among them! – often don’t recognize how high expectations have become or what it takes, because the layers of detail that lie beneath the delivery of those products and services – details that may be unique to various business concepts, models, sectors, or environments are often hidden from view of all but the closest and most engaged.
It is far easier to identify what is wrong than what is right, what is working smoothly.
Legislators are elected to address competing priorities and concerns. And there are no shortages of grievances, short-term and long-term fears and challenges among voters. Public and private discourse that considers compelling problems are riveting, engaging, and demand the action that successful legislators are poised to provide.
The task at hand
So now, what to do when we see something that we know, with all our experience, is more complicated than it may present on the surface? How to convey these urgent red or yellow flags to an audience that we have succeeded in shielding from our daily realities?
As Colorado Legislators craft and debate solutions that may impose various costs and risks, how can we facilitate the consideration of a full range of variables, visible or hidden, that are critical to understand in order to arrive at reasonably successful outcomes?
Capturing and conveying that information is more critical today than ever before. Citizens today have growing confidence that government offers the most effective solutions on every front yet are often unaware of the risks posed by broad and poorly informed policy.
Revealing what may be hidden
Data is scarce. It is expensive to collect, may not be reliable, and may impose compliance burdens on its sources that we need to recognize and understand. While our state agencies are a resource, vast critical areas are left obscured. This may never change. But systems that allow for feedback loops learn. With persistence, we can seek and discover opportunities even in an environment of public institutions that are slow to change and adapt in a rapidly advancing economy.
The business community is well versed in navigating an uncertain future and recognizes the value of agility in the face of emerging challenges. We should continue to encourage small scale, incremental solutions that impose the least amount of risk and burden and that avoid hindering the learning and discovery that may emerge from diverse sources. We should embrace and encourage collaboration and multiple iterative solutions rather than single broad solutions that require an “all in” mechanism that risks burdening us all with rigid and intractable systems.
An urgent call to businesses
Colorado business owners, you are one of the critical resources capable of making these feedback loops work successfully. While we all acknowledge the imperfect process and institutions, when has a barrier or obstacle ever stopped a determined entrepreneur? We must collaborate and contribute to the process rather than brace for unwise laws, initiatives and detrimental change introduced in our midst.
Today’s challenge is paid family and medical leave and funding our infrastructure in a growing economy. Tomorrow it may be worker retirement security and next, the marginalized workforce from technological advancement and change. Our workforce is frightened of uncertainty and the future for their families. Yet entrepreneurs have families and messy lives too, and no cavalry is coming to our aid. We are the job creators of today and tomorrow. We will be missed if we can’t figure this out. We need to work better together. The stakes are high.