Czars, Commissions, and Task Forces

I live in California. Right now we have no visible plan to distribute vaccines, we’ve got huge problems with our system for distributing emergency employment benefits because of fraud, big trouble getting schools reopened, and epic wildfire and long term water problems…. and, unsurprisingly, Governor Gavin Newsom is in political trouble facing a recall.

We need some czars, commissions, and task forces.

(though Newsom needs some Czars mostly)

What is striking about this for me is that politicians seem to have forgotten how politicians (and other leaders) get things done.

Don’t fix the problem themselves (you have plenty else to do). Don’t throw a “budget wedge” at them (no plan and a random budget is never going to work). Don’t rely on the system to work them (the reason there is a political problem is that the “system” can’t handle this).

Appoint a czar.

Someone – ONE someone – to own and work the problem vested with your power and authority… to do whatever it is that needs to be done to get it done.

Whatever the problem is you do need someone to “own” it for you, but big, tricky problems need that extra-investment of making them Czar.

Yes, they may get the political benefits for being the hero (and some of the risk for failing), but you’ve got many things to get done.

This is not a zero-sum game.

For Vaccine Distribution, California needs a Czar.

Maybe it is Eleni Kounalakis (our Lieutenant Governor). Maybe it is Kaiser’s CEO Greg Adams.

Someone to get it done.

Similarly for our bureaucracy problems. Probably a Blue-Ribbon Commission for that one. Throw our Treasurer, Fiona Ma or Kounalakis as your lead on the problem.

Give them a big goal and a short timeline to give the state a new direction.

For fire and water, we need expertise, not buy-in. These are big, technical problems with political hurdles to follow.

… and for our schools… that one, you need to call the leaders of our school districts, teachers unions, and PTAs … and lock everyone in a room together – with your leadership…. to hammer something out for our kids.

    Steven Davis