If you have ever attempted to assemble or repair something with the wrong tool, you know how difficult it can be.
It will be a long day if you try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver or screw on a bolt in with a hammer. Something as simple as having the right tool for the right job can make or break a project and alter the success of your plan altogether. And while putting hammer to nail and screwdriver to screw is logical, it results from problem-solving skills that we have learned over time. The answer isn’t applying additional time and resources to make the screwdriver work as a hammer; finding the solution to the problem may not simply require a reallocation of resources to serve the purpose better.
Local government leaders need to ensure that they have all the correct tools at their disposal and the ability to apply those tools to achieve the solutions facing their communities as efficiently and resourcefully as possible. Waiting until you are faced with a problem to acquire the proper tools can be costly at best and, at worst, too late to make a difference.
Some issues today, such as climate change and equity, are so nuanced and complex that the way organizations have approached them in the past hasn’t been effective. Sometimes these societal issues require a fresh approach and out-of-the-box solutions.
ResourceX and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) are proponents of creating a budget that meets the community's needs to solve such complex problems. Sometimes this requires that organizations shake free of how things were done in the past and approach the budgeting process with an innovative approach that allows for experimentation and strategizing.
Recognizing that the wheel is in motion and that governments don’t have the freedom to wipe the slate clean and start over, Fabian and Ludwig still believe that leaders can be nimble and innovative in their budgeting process.
Consider turning the page and starting with what you want to accomplish and then examining what resources are at hand to make that a reality. Sometimes just using your platform and having a conversation is a good start. When local governments step back to appraise the problems they want to solve, it can lead to innovative and creative solutions that were not on the table before.
Endeavoring to solve real-world problems instead of budget issues can open up new avenues to provide solutions. Perhaps funding isn’t what the complex issue even calls for. Instead of just providing funding, a shift to delivering solutions can make a difference.