February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 39

is a tendency to wait for others to lead
the way before considering doing what
may be necessary to move the needle
toward an improved condition.
Public parks and recreation (and,
governmental services in general)
has found itself at a critical crossroads and is profoundly impacted by
a number of adaptive challenges that
have the propensity to negatively affect communities all across the country if silence or inaction continue. If
we look at just one of these challenges through a " lens of sense, " we begin to see not only the cause of the
issue, but also the symptoms.
It is no secret that our country's infrastructure is in a state of chaos and
crisis. Across the United States, our
common physical resources (bridges,
dams, roads, water systems) are, in
some cases, beyond repair, requiring complete replacement. America
has an exorbitant amount of deteriorating infrastructure. According to
recent estimates from the American
Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), it
would take a $3.6 trillion investment
today to stop the continuation of the
current backlog.
If we take a closer look at the state
of public parks and recreation, maintenance backlogs and deteriorating
infrastructure are of concern across
the country. This results from significant building and development when
times were good with less attention
given to how to pay for the necessary,
ongoing maintenance that would ultimately be required to care for the
asset over its lifespan.
The accumulation of vast amounts
of maintenance backlog in the billions of dollars is now the new normal in the public sector. In some
organizations, these backlogs are far
beyond what can be addressed. All
too often when funding projections
are tallied for both development and
maintenance, the tendency is to in-

vest in building and delay identifying
maintenance dollars for another time
and on someone else's watch.
Growth is exciting, but it breeds
debt. Leadership is required to ensure that an organization can sustain
and prosper far beyond the present.

Leading Change
Adaptation is difficult. When plants
and animals adapt, they naturally
lose a part of their DNA, leaving a
part of themselves behind to create
space for something new. All organizations include cultural DNA and
they too may need to let go of some
aspect of themselves to make room
for something new. The questions
we have to ask ourselves include: (1)
what do we keep? (2) what do we get
rid of? and (3) what do we need that
we currently do not have or what's
missing? What we don't do enough is
ask the question: Where are we now
and what is affecting us?
When an organization has to
change, people are going to be
asked to give up something that is
important to them. People do not
inherently resist change as the common assumption goes - they resist
loss. People want to be protected
and validated, and not asked to give
up what is comforting or familiar.
When leading change, it is important to understand that the resistance
you receive is not a function of people not getting it. They likely get it.
They just may not like it.
This resistance is inevitable when
an organization goes through significant change. You have to choose
between keeping people happy and
meeting their expectations or pushing beyond comfort zones and creating an improved reality. Choosing to
reform and improve conditions, even
when difficult, affirms your commit-

ment to the cause.
Many
profess
to be leaders. However,
those who exhibit leadership do
not call attention to
themselves - they call
attention to the cause. The
collective cause of the park and recreation profession is a legacy of public
lands and play for future generations.
This cause must be supported by a
commitment of the masses to exhibit
leadership and do the tough stuff. To
pick up the can rather than kicking it

When leading change, it is
important to understand that the
resistance you receive is not a
function of people not getting it.
down the road. To focus on what is in
the best interest of the common good.
When I reflect back to the days
when I began reading " The Art of
War " as a coach, I was not prepared
to see that it was an ageless teaching
of leadership. It embodied the fundamental message that it is always best
to avoid creating a state of chaos and
crisis in the first place. Being courageous enough to say what needs to be
said and do what needs to be done is
where we must begin.

To hear Sabbach talk more about leading with courage, tune in to the February
bonus episode of Open Space Radio at
openspaceradio.org or on your favorite
podcast app.
Jamie Sabbach is President and CEO of 110% Inc. and Amilia
Consulting USA (jamie.sabbach@110percent.net).

W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G | F E B R U A RY 2 02 0 |

Parks & Recreation

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February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2020 - Parks & Recreation

February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 2
February 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 3
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