Monett Matters: August 2023
Director of Community Development
City of Monett
What does it take to tackle large undertakings? Why are some people / businesses / associations / nonprofits / municipalities better at accomplishing big goals, while others struggle to simply stay afloat? The answer is having a “circle of trust” with those involved in a system.
I feel blessed to be part of the team here at the City of Monett. There is an incredible and genuine interest in these questions within our departments. We have hard working people, people with incredible knowledge and skills. And we have tremendous opportunities to reach new levels of effectiveness.
Recently, I was invited to a meeting with some stakeholders in the ‘new construction’ industry, who are investing in Monett. There was a lot of concern about productivity and processes. Confusion and frustration are oftentimes interpreted as nuisances. However, I see these scenarios as opportunities. After all, those who go away in silence and disbelief are truly lost. People willing to bring you together and share their experiences, even challenging ones, are still trying to make relationships work.
Prior to this discussion I had the pleasure of meeting with our Building and Zoning Inspector. He was very generous with his time. I was surprised at the depth of his understanding in the building process. Surprised mostly, because I learned very quickly about how little I understood.
As I inquired about what it takes to buy an old building, get it fixed up and turned into a dream business, I slowly slid into my chair, feeling overwhelmed. And I thought of other people who may be experiencing that same level of reality. What a “buzz kill”, if you would please pardon the slangish pun.
I asked him to point me to codes and rules and industry standards I would need to know, in order to properly prepare for such an undertaking. He stacked about fifteen giant books on his desk, which ended up standing feet above his head. At this moment, I was even more thrilled to have my job and not his.
There is so much going on behind the scenes when it comes to new construction and renovation. Foundation, sewer, water and utility connections, fire mitigation, disability accommodations, flood zone rules. The list goes on forever. A maze of requirements which are created for our own safety. Regulations don’t exist until someone has been hurt or killed. These things do not create themselves in a vacuum.
For a builder or remodeler, these are the things that make and break them. They need to know what we know. They need to know how to comply. How to cooperate. How to make it to the end without losing their sanity, and without going broke in the process.
Two equally important forces, meeting in the perfect storm of progress. The internal and external winds, blowing them together. The city and the builders and contractors.
A gentleman at this stakeholder’s meeting asked to draw on my notepad. He scribed a trust circle. It begins by having “clear expectations”, progresses with “visible actions”, and completes the circuit with “honest representation”. He is an electrician, so I hope he appreciates my subtle analogy.
Could he be any more right? I think not. And the tools to make this circle of trust are systems and vital communications. Little did he know that we were internally struggling with wanting to solve this riddle as well. No one goes to work thinking “how can I cost someone else money today” or “how can I make someone suffer against my unyielding power”.
The “circle of trust” will now become my underlying philosophy, as I get to work a bit of mediation between external and internal forces and systems. I am grateful for this man’s gift. I might have tried to boil this down myself, but would have used dozens of words and phrases to get there. Yet, these three words are truly the backbone of all relationships.
Over the next weeks to months, two groups of hard working people are moving toward a common goal. Builders and contractors are helping as a task force, to give us useful perspective on their experience and needs. City professionals becoming a work group, from all pertinent departments, to illuminate the necessary and legally required steps and protocols, to light the path.
Little old me, I will work to find ways to help modernize the process. Expand availability to information. Explore digital technology to allow for a more seamless flow through this difficult, yet worthwhile journey.
Excellent people are on both sides of this challenge. We are symbiotic. We want the same things, but we shepherd different aspects of the process. We need housing and businesses for future generations! It starts with what we build and how we renovate. Wish us well!