TJPDC Technocrat or Trumpeter Swan?

By. Neil Williamson, President

Steve Williams TJPDC Photo Credit Greene County RecordSean Tubbs of Charlottesville Tomorrow reports in this morning’s Daily Progress that Stephen Williams’ contract as Executive Director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) will not be renewed.  While the Free Enterprise Forum has often questioned much of the TJPDC’s work under Mr. Williams, we wish him only the best in his future endeavors.

Where does the TJPDC go from here?

In selecting its next executive, should the TJPDC Board seek out planning professionals who have rich resumes filled with writing, securing and administering grants?

Should the Board focus on the significant transportation component of the job and look to transportation and transit professionals with a litany of studies and reports under their belt?

MN09 trumpeter swan 107_4185Or should this regional planning organization consider seeking out a “Trumpeter Swan” who may or may not have the planning credentials but has a resume filled with assignments that required leadership, consensus building and risk management?

Please let me explain.

The “Trumpeter Swan” moniker is attributed to advertising giant David Ogilvy who in seeking new Creative Directors wrote a space advertisement seeking “Trumpeter Swans who combine personal genius with inspiring leadership – we have an opening for one of these rare birds”.

Such talented individuals tend to be long on world experience and short on academic credentials.  In addition, the most successful trumpeter swans are self aware of their own shortcomings, as such they tend to surround themselves with high level talent without fear of being out shined.  

But the question remains would such a rare bird have an chance of survival in the TJPDC environment?

The safer choice is a technocrat; someone who has worked their way up through the planning ranks perhaps with a smaller region.  Such an individual would know ‘how to play the game’.  This is the lens which was used to select the past two TJPDC leaders.

Which direction will the TJPDC Board go?

Stay tuned.

Respectfully submitted,

Neil Williamson

clip_image0024_thumb.pngNeil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville.

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