Hot Monthly Info

Hot Info is distributed to our email list and posted here monthly to offer free organization and management advice for government employees.

If you have additional comments, questions or suggestions, please email them to us at and we’ll include them on our site and distribute them to all our emailers.
Thank you.

You can review any of our previous articles on our search engine (to the right).

If you would like to join our email newsletter, please sign-up here.

March – A Test of Time

Twenty-one years after I left one of my planning director jobs, a former staff member sent me a copy of a statement that I had presented to the staff some 40 years ago which she kept all these years. Her note to me was, “How does this look today?” Here are some of the highlights. Tell me what you think.

The components of plannerize in Zuckerize are:

  1. Today vs 2000 (today it would be 2032)
    Planning is the act of making short-term (today) recommendations based on an understanding of long-term impact and projections. It is not planning for the year 2000, it is affecting today’s action.
  1. Exploring the Options – Understanding Other Perspectives
    Ours is a pluralistic society that at times must work in unison. Your role is to understand all sides of a debate or conflict. To explore options; to present facts. Finally, to take a position; make a judgement – but based on proper understanding and research. It’s most important to communicate and continue to communicate with those who may have a different position than you. Try to understand that position better than the person who holds it. It will either change your mind, or at least sharpen your position, and check your accuracy.

    We can also do this for each other. That’s why open debate and disagreement is so important. Open your mouth and also your mind (not always in that order).No staff member is hired to agree with any other staff member including the Director. Honest, intelligent debate is not only accepted but is demanded of all staff members.

  1. Ideas
    We must proceed on the assumption that we cannot achieve our goals if we maintain our traditional methods. The old answers will not do. Planners have been doing the same things for years simply because all the other planners have been doing the same things the same old ways. _____is not just one of thousands of cities. It is not just a political subdivision of the State of ____. ____is unique in geography, history, and the works of man. The Planning Department must match this uniqueness. A staff whose performance, procedure, and programs are “up to date” may just not be good enough for ____. We must lead – not merely follow the blind. So think! Reason! This is what you’re getting paid for. Ideas, please!

The Management Doctor

Reader Responses

Thanks for the memories Paul! After nearly 41 years working for some 7 different cities in 5 states, your advice still rings so true, especially for the young planners coming up. Many times I have had to coax ideas from planners knowing that they disagreed with me but were afraid to step up and say so. I’ve also learned from these sessions as I was expected to make decisions that I wasn’t prepared to make. I love working with the new planners coming out of school with a thirst for knowledge and sharing with them that it is more than acceptable to offer their advice on any subject or development that comes our way.

Robert McKay

Paul, you were spot on then and these ideas are still very relevant. I was so pleased today in a staff meeting when a smart staff member said, “Hey I have a counterpoint perspective.” Independent thinking is critical.

Sarah S. More, FAICP

February – Meetings

The start of the year is a good time to re-visit the topic of meetings. Here are pages and cartoons from my book Mis-Management. Cartoonist, Dean Vietor, and I wrote this book in an attempt to take on Dilbert.  It has been self-published and is a great read. You can find it at our website’s publication page at

His meeting followed the agenda.
Bruce Duncan

Well, I’ve heard of the 800 pound gorilla and the elephant in the room, but you?
I don’t know what your’re supposed to be.

Natasha Longpine

Why do they go through the same old song and dance at every one of these hearings?
Chuck Kleeberg

Walter, I appreciate the preparation you go through for our weekly meetings.
I think I would appreciate it more, though, if you could relax a bit – or actually bring in the cameras.

Kathy James

The Planning Director was not kidding when she said this was going to be a long meeting.
Ned Thomas

Who called this meeting?
Douglas M. Greene

Ted was surprised to learn that hell was just one long meeting.
Ned Thomas