Greg Ballard

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There was an election recently in Indianapolis between incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard (R) and challenger Melina Kennedy.  A reporter for the Indianapolis Star (and the Star) put their endorsement behind the challenger because she had better vision . . . and we aren’t talking about eyesight.

I consider myself an independent, so there things I like and don’t like about Republicans and Democrats.  However, I found the whole “vision thing” to be pathetic.  I’ve seen it in business too.

Too many executives with “vision” running companies into the ground.  They need to understand the business first and not just bullet points and anecdotes.  They need to understand what it takes to do the job and interact with constituents or customers that use the service.  Visionaries often gloss over the “understand the business first” piece.

Mayor Ballard won despite the endorsement of the Star falling to his challenger.  Why? Because he and his staff did the things that matter to the voters.  Do the fundamentals well and reelection will follow.  The “vision thing” can wait for the basics to be mastered and knowledge to be gained.  If you aren’t doing the things that matter to customers and constituents than you aren’t going to win an election or make profit.

Vision and political ideology in government seemingly go hand-in-hand.  More government, less government, privatization . . . how about “what works”  for a change.  This requires knowledge, not plans or policy.  This is completely counter to the “big picture” people we too often see in government.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Read his articles at Quality Digest and his column for  Learn more about the Vanguard Method for service organizations.  Reach him on Twitter at LinkedIn at

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