March 21, 2006 > Editorial: Cooperation
In my opinion, a large part of the vision of Fremont's 50th anniversary celebration is to bring unity to the city - a noble goal. Celebrating our districts and helping people to see and use the wide variety of businesses that reside here is a key to that objective. As part of the 50th celebration, a "passport" game, modeled after Centerville's "Centeropoly," was envisioned to entice residents to explore Fremont shops and restaurants. The plan was straightforward and simple. A booklet - passport - would be printed with advertising spaces from local stores inviting residents to visit their place of business and receive an acknowledgement stamp. Filling "passport" spaces with merchant stamps would then determine eligibility for prizes initially slated for distribution at the Central Park celebration in September.
Although valiant efforts created the model and began to sell advertisements, for a variety of reasons the passport floundered and appeared headed for defeat. A major problem arose because, although business owners applauded the concept, top-down management by the 50th organization began altering the program until it became unwieldy and unrealistic for small business. A meeting was held last week under the guidance of Business and Neighborhoods Team Co-Chairpersons Gaby Machuca and Patty Hitchcock to clear the air and determine if there was hope to revive this venture.
Business owners and residents of all historic districts came together and any hint of dissention was quickly laid to rest as participants got to work. These people understand the value of their time and worked efficiently to set up a working committee that will define a program that works. Understanding obstacles and defining the goal of the passport was discussed and participants offered solid suggestions for success. Districts were united in their determination to make the passport program easily accessible for residents and a winning situation for business as well.
A keyword often used in management circles is "supportive management." This refers to the ability of those at the top of the organizational ladder to stop, listen and adjust their process to how their decisions affect the overall health of a company. It may appear more advantageous and efficient to work as a small, sometimes obscure group, but without the support of the rank-and-file, these efforts, no matter how well intentioned, are doomed to resentment and ultimate failure. Managers who know their business are more successful when managing others, guiding rather than micromanaging and meddling. Success and appreciation for a job well done is usually shared with those who successfully shepherd the process.
The passport program now appears to be back on track and has regained its momentum. Through open cooperation, which has always been at the heart of most supporters of the celebration, rather than closed and secretive decision-making, the odds of success are high. I hope this grassroots inclusive process is encouraged in all aspects of the celebration and urge the board of directors to heavily publicize and encourage public attendance and participation at board meetings as well as with committee assignments.