Thursday, April 14, 2016

Get Out of the Way

Here are a couple of links that combine into a mostly coherent thought.

First, from CityLab, how 'maintainers,' not 'innovators,' make the world turn. It tells of a conference held recently that focused on the value of maintaining. As the story says, these thinkers

have nothing against “innovators” such as Jobs and his ilk—it’s just that “maintainers” are doing so much more. “The vast majority of technologies that surround us and underpin our lives are not innovations,” Vinsel says. “And the vast majority of labor in our culture is not focused on introducing or adopting new things, but on keeping things going.”
Maintaining societal and physical infrastructure is not sexy, as I've written before. And see, other people are now having academic conferences about the topic.

I read the CityLab story just after lunch, when I had been listening to a talk by political scientist Jacob Hacker on MPR. Hacker talked about how our current politics (and particularly the Republican Party) is focused on derailing government so that it can't work, therefore "proving" their point that government can't work.

Hacker even said something similar to an idea I've written about earlier: that government suffers from its inability to advertise the good it does. I agree with him that much of our last 100 years of American history have been about progress through government action (usually in response to citizen demands), combined with business leadership...up until the last 35 years or so, when progress has increasingly happened in spite of business leadership.

Maintaining what you've built is a core government function and a core business function. Improving what you've built is also key to both. Some people seem to have forgotten these facts, and they need to leave governing to those who want to use its tools for civic good.

1 comment:

Kolean Pitner said...

What an insightful idea! Of course, it seems obvious after thinking about the way institutions and businesses work. But the focus is almost ALWAYS on the importance of leadership and innovation. Yes, they are important but, as you say, maintaining what you've built is a core government and a core business function.

I am also outraged that the Republicans get a free pass on their heinous efforts to derail government so that it CAN'T work!