02.16.05 Community of Minds: Mike De Aloia; City of Cleveland "Tech Czar"

Submitted by Bill Vasu on Mon, 02/21/2005 - 01:14.

I observe that often the form and style details of an event serve as markers of its content and substance. For me, the Community of Minds meeting on February 16 was such an example. I arrived at the Arcade too early and, after a brief discussion with a friend, I detoured to Starbucks for a mocha. When I returned to the event at about 5:35 PM I heard a loud party buzz which was segmented into those around the bar, those waiting in the party room for the already empty hors d'oeuvres trays to refill (20 minutes later) and those milling around the speakers platform.

Around six the usual cast of sponsors made their respective intros and we were then introduced to Mike DeAloia, the newly appointed Senior Executive for Technology Development, the Tech Czar, for the City of Cleveland. Mike's presentation, billed by Community of Minds as The Technology Development Strategic Plan, was focused and to the point. He indicated afterward that a copy of the presentation was or would be available. But when I later made several visits to the City of Cleveland web site, I not only could not find the presentation but a search led to no reference to Mike, by name or title, even several days later.

The highlights of the plan which registered in memory, not having the presentation or a summary to refer to, include using the auspices of government to both incent and support the growing technology sector into moving to and thriving in certain newly identified technology neighborhoods and actively encouraging the growth of supportive funding sources. I look forward to the implementation of these programs and they are an excellent first step. But deeper more fundamental cultural change is required to insure that the results of these efforts remain and prosper. In marketing terminology, this includes making it part of our regional culture to let the customer, in this case the targeted tech companies, define the "whole product" as they perceive it. Which brings me full circle.

At the presentation, there was at least one voice of the customer regarding that evening's product. A questioner expressed, I judge for many, a desire for a copy of the presentation/plan to review for longer than the few minutes of the presentation. Mike indicated it would be available, but didn't indicate how that availability would occur. The logical accessible and public place to look for it, the Cleveland web site, has no reference to the meeting, the plan, or the man.

In my view, this omission is not about one individual slipping up or even several. The people involved are all qualified and competent. This is about a regional assumption that those who really matter are already on some private circle distribution list. And the dialogue with the community, while it may be nice PR, is not really about any fundamental and necessary part of the process. Like attending to the hors d'oeuvres supply at the Hyatt, attending to the details of public dialogue are considered not all that important because it's merely window dressing for those who have already begun to execute a plan which, by the way, requires your awareness but not your input, thank you.

I believe that REALNEO is the bellwether for a fundamental change in our regional perspective to one of choosing active inclusion in interlocked networks of dialogue and requiring, in a spirit of appreciative inquiry, that we hold each other accountable for executing the details of each and every requirement for true dialogue.

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