When does something we already know become a visionary thought?
Here are some key quotes from James Crupi’s just-released report on Richmond, “Putting the Future Together,” that touch upon a thorny and much-discussed topic [emphasis mine]:
When asked who they thought would be the up and coming leaders five years from now, virtually all [of the Richmond businessmen] interviewed responded with blank stares. That is unusual in these kinds of studies and is not a good sign for the metro area.
[Richmond's] business community is tactical and not strategic. It doesn’t look out on the horizon and determine what should be done. It doesn’t develop a group agenda. Business leaders benchmark world class when looking at their companies, but when making decisions for the region; they go it alone and rely on history and culture for solutions. There are many business leaders who are doing many things in the community very quietly and very effectively. They dream, but are not visionary. They handle issues one at a time and handle them piecemeal. They are attracted to those who have the economic resources to act and undervalue social and intellectual capital. People with social networking skills or creative ideas are typically not brought “to the table” on community projects or issues unless they also have economic means. That is a real problem because it takes people with a range of skills and cultural backgrounds to build community power and diversity of thought; ironically skills that they recognize when it comes to global competition.
It is almost if people are waiting for the Queen to arrive. The attitude is that somehow I want to be great, but I am doing okay with things the way they are - why take the risk? The people are ready, the leaders are not. The area will drift if individual business leaders don’t step up to the plate with regularity. It takes generational persistence, not short term project focus to get important, large scale regional projects done.
[Leaders should] involve people with social and intellectual capital and youth with regularity. For too long the business community has not placed social and intellectual capital on par with economic strength when working on community problems. The metro area is blessed with plenty of both and it will require a diversity of talent if the region is to move together as one in working on regional issues. Wisdom and experience when coupled with the creativity and drive of young people is a powerful combination that also needs to be leveraged.
It isn’t surprising that Dr. Crupi would make Old Richmond’s attitudes toward the city’s young people and creatives a priority in his study (see the final sections), which was unveiled on Monday.
The only surprise is the scandalous number of times the business community has now paid to hear a respected outside consultant deliver this same message, and how many years they have ignored it. Let’s see: First, there was Richard Florida in 2003… Rebecca Ryan and Dr. Jennifer James in 2004… Charles Landry in 2006 — all preaching youth, diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Somewhere in there, this completely ignored study on the subject of Richmond’s growing “youth gap” was also commissioned. It’s like Crupi’s findings written in uppercase bold.
Richmond’s “Business community” has easily dropped $1 million-plus in recent years to tell itself something that it obviously doesn’t want to hear — that it is not allowing newer, younger, more diverse voices and ideas to be heard in civic affairs. Talk about schizophrenia.
More on the study to come. In the meantime, please read it.