Who is the author of this blog? And why are we doing this?
The primary author is Otis White, who retired in December 2019 as president of a strategic planning consulting firm in Atlanta called Civic Strategies. Before starting this firm, he was a business magazine editor and publisher. And before that, he was a newspaper reporter who covered, among other things, local governments.
His consulting work often involved business leaders, nonprofit executives, and government officials working side by side on important issues, from economic development and transportation to neighborhood revitalization and housing.
But he also saw many missed opportunities—moments when a business organization could have worked effectively with government but didn’t, or when governments could have multiplied their effectiveness if only they had reached out to the nonprofit community.
There are many reasons leaders don’t collaborate. But a common one is lack of understanding. They are sure of themselves and their work. But they don’t know enough about others to see what they do well.
So how do we build understanding, so that businesses, governments, and nonprofits can work better together in making our cities, states, and nation healthier, wealthier, better educated and life in America safer and fairer?
We can begin by looking at what each of these sectors does well. We are starting with government, because it is notoriously poor at explaining itself. To see what government does well, we’re looking for specific government programs that have brought benefits to tens of millions of Americans, performed far better than what existed before, and show us government’s strengths.
Should someone do something like this for business and nonprofits—look for specific ways businesses and nonprofits have made people’s lives better? Yes, and we hope they will. (Hey, contact us! We’ll urge government officials to read it.)
A natural question: Has Otis ever worked in government? In college, he held a part-time job at the local Post Office (before it was renamed the Postal Service), where he loaded trucks and sorted mail. As a consultant, he was sometimes hired by governments to assist with strategic planning projects or leadership retreats. And even when his clients were nonprofits or businesses, he often worked alongside local and state officials in building collaborations. He writes for various publications about local government, cities, neighborhoods, and collaboration, so he knows how government works. But since college, every paycheck he has received was from a for-profit company.
Want to know more about Otis White? You can read his bio at the Civic Strategies website.