In my observations of and time spent working with the military, I am consistently impressed by the collective and pervasive ability of service members to, actually or metaphorically, duct tape anything together and make it work.
Ingenuity is a hallmark of the services.
But there are two other common mantras (I suppose I should acknowledge here that in fact there are many more as well): ‘Don’t reinvent the wheel’ and ‘Teamwork matters.’
All of these ideas are employed in the Veterans’ support team in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This may be a small town, but it boasts an extensive decorated military heritage and a huge active support team for vets. I had the honor of getting to meet and talk with many of the members of this exceptional city and learn about not only the individual programs that they each run but also about how they work together to meet all needs for all vets. These men and women represent what I call ‘collective brilliance.’
As I come out of military readiness, the mantras above resonate with me, guide me, shape how I look at problems. Rarely is it the case that money is the sole element required to solve a problem. Even more rare is the probability that someone hasn’t already solved it. Rather, it is most often the case that some person or some group have solved either the exact problem you’re facing or at least a portion of it already. When this is the case, it is cheaper, easier, and far more effective to simply connect the dots than it is to spend more money solving the same problem…yet again.
I call this process: Find Brilliance; Repeat.
This idea is what has driven me to traverse our country. It is my hypothesis that we have all the talent, ideas, programs, and examples across the amazing, large, exceptional country of ours that we need to solve all of our national issues. We simply need to find those that have solved pieces of each issue and connect them.
Bowling Green, KY has demonstrated how teamwork matters for true change. They have proven that federal dollars can be used to pay for facilitative actions (like a coordination person or team) and combined with local programs that know their residents and needs best. It sounds simple in concept but too often in federal work we aim to create large-scale, costly solutions because we focus on budgets, politics, and solving problems in Washington while unintentionally missing the local capabilities.
BGKY helps confirm my belief that government operates at its best when it acts as a facilitative entity that helps coordinate local brilliance and share models of success across states.
Thank you to everyone BGKY – you guys embody my campaign motto: Unity Strength Action. Thoughts and ideas are great but if and only if they result in action. You all are exemplary.
Disclaimer: As always, interviewees provide information, not endorsements.