Unfunded Mandates

If they’re not the epitome of feckless governance, unfunded mandates are very high on the list.

Legislating the way things should be without resourcing the “commitment” is no commitment at all, nor is it a bold claim to a better future.

Priorities that aren’t grounded in budgets are just wishes, and they’re more painful for the implementers than simply telling them to do less with less.

Of course, government isn’t the only culprit: as anyone knows who’s ever received a friendly “suggestion” or a zillion high-priority requests with no regard for context, unfunded mandates are everywhere in daily life.

Professionals don’t provide advice or requests in the form of an unfunded mandate.

If you’re presenting an idea to the boss, acknowledge her context: if you feel you need free lunch to work effectively, present it alongside a proposal for where the money’s going to come from, not just a list of your reasons.

Most of all, when authority is devolved and responsibility is there for the taking (which is more often than you think!), don’t just suggest a helpful improvement. If you’re generous of spirit, bold of intellect, and humble of ego, go ahead and show us a better way. Even if your way isn’t perfect, the mere act of making things better will set a powerful ratchet in motion.