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Does A + B Always Equal C?

August 17, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
We seem to be in love with packaging. Is this always a good thing?

As our daily lives are filled with more information and as we navigate the daily stress of life, we are increasingly looking for packaged or “ease and convenient” solutions.

Marketers and advertisers have caught on to this game and it is increasingly becoming part of our political life as well.

Packages, Packages

In the tourism trade, we are all familiar with “packages.” These traditionally may have included dine and stay packages along with the use of amenities of that particular resort.

Nowadays however, tourism packages can include everything from airfare, car rental, your resort stay, meals as well as tickets to various venues throughout the area.

Often these package deals can be less expensive than purchasing them individually.

Sometimes they are not.

The list price of your package may not include many additional fees such as taxes, occupancy tax, resort fees and convenience fees among others.

Bundles

MSN ran an interesting article entitled “6 Useless Things You’re Forced to Buy.” They talk about “Bundling practices” and define it as “when you pay for something, the costs don't always stop there. Bundling practices and having to pay for additional items can increase your final payment greatly.” They provide six examples including “paying for channels you may never watch.” Other examples include “pre-installed software you may never use” and options on a vehicle you wish to purchase.

“Bundling” as always been a part of our political life when it comes to the passage of bills. Federal and state legislation are often “bundled” with many parts that in some cases have nothing to do with the intent of the bill.

Unheralded years ago were the work of the 21st Commission in terms of their economic development proposals for the Adirondack Park. Unfortunately, they were bundled with efforts to further regulate the Park and many of these economic ideas were lost.

Is it Logical?

As our local governments deal with tax caps, unfunded mandates while at the same time wrestle with moving the area forwarded is there a way to utilize the human talent that exists throughout our area? Unlike so many other rural areas, we are rich in human resource. How many places can boast a cadre of full-time citizens, seasonal residents and strong professional base? Moreover, we have thousands of tourists that visit our area every day and even they can be a source of intelligence culling.

A Networked Resource

Is there a way we can get more involved with these issues and many others that face our communities in today’s networked age?

For example, the Sears parking lot is vitally important to downtown. Have we utilized all the resources we have at our disposal to help our local officials find an equitable solution?

Other rural communities have also wrestled with public space including parking. For example, is there a way to consider using part of the lease payment as a contribution to an agreed upon purchase price so that our local governments may have the opportunity to put this in public hands in the future? Could a parking “cooperative” be formed? May part of the lot be used as an information center of kiosks that lists businesses and events that require a fee to participate as a way to generate revenue? If other ideas could help the Sears parking lot issue, could off-setting revenue to the Town be used to market the Business Park to other biotech firms? What is the best use of A + B = ?

However, in Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, Tapscott and Williams make an interesting point. There are new ways, especially through the Internet, to communicate and for us to help. “Because of the networked age,” they write, organizations “can be platforms for value creation.” This “expands the power of a business or and organization because it harnesses the creative power of a larger, more diverse, and ultimately more capable network of contributors then you could ever find in a single organization.”

They go on further to comment “government doesn't have to build and create everything - people can actually help create, through the participatory process, some of the solutions that the public sector needs.”

Virtual Town Halls

As our local governments work on the challenges and new opportunities that are coming before them, is it possible to create a platform for ideas?

For example, the Town of Harrietstown has a nice website. As they wrestle with this issue and others such as the future of the Adirondack Regional Airport, could this web site be used as a discussion forum?

In the New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott, he talks about one of today's effective strategies for reaching out to people is to tell a story. As the Town wrestles with these issues, would it be possible on their web site to create some type of forum that says “Hey, you know we are working on this issue and here are some of the alternatives we are considering. What do you think of these ideas and would you know of other possibilities?”

Is it possible to start a new form of conversation and idea generation?

Perhaps, all of our local governments in the area could together create one source, a “Municipal Corner” that talks about opportunities and challenges and asks for input.

The rage of the day seems to be commentary and reviews. We often do not look at what the product or service is but first look at what everyone else thinks.

Many of us don't have the time to attend public meetings. However, there may be a way through the “networked age” to become “citizen advocates” and help our local officials.

Sometimes in these local issues, “the end justifies the means.” In others, we may be too ambivalent and decisions have to be made. Should we at least set up a networked forum and provide the opportunity to think together to determine if A + B really = C?

Sometimes there is no “Easy button” and we all need to get involved. There are increasingly “easy buttons” to do so however and successful communities in the future may be ones which have created “networked neighborhoods” and where the town hall is becoming a virtual one.

 
 

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