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What I learned from my meeting with L Brooks Patterson

I had a chance to meet with the team that keeps Oakland County growing.  I had a great time and learned a lot about the amount of care, detail and discipline of the leadership.  We met our leaders behind our Budget, Roads, Emergency Management, Placemaking, IT and the One stop Shop Businesses Center.

Sometimes Oakland county seems difficult to work with on a regional level, but I have to say I really appreciate it, they stick to their guns.  The stance they have is a very pragmatic and responsible one, it is as below:

  • If it is good for OC taxpayers and Good for the region, they are in.
  • If it is neutral for OC taxpayers and good for the region, they are in.
  • if it is bad for OC taxpayers, then they are not in.

We met Mr. Patterson and he shared his success tips, which are really insightful.  After a lifetime of service it holds a lot of weight.  Here's what he had to say:

  • Hire the best, get good talent - Hire people if you know that, if you don't know them, you've seen them or from a referral of somebody you trust.
  • Back People Up - Like the geese formation
  • Credit  - Give it to others, never take it
  • Mistakes - It's ok to make them, just don't make them twice
  • Encourage - It just takes common sense to do it, do what you would like done to you. Public displays of anger don't work.
  • Don't micromanage - Assign things and then get out of the way.

You can see this really worked, some unique things Oakland County has accomplished:

  • Budget planning is 3 years out and always approved by a bi-partisan committee of Democrats and Republicans.  Bond agencies find this unique and are floored by it.
  • Advanced traffic management - Camera system and round-a-bouts (they make a ton of  sense)
  • Mitigating potentially catastrophic legacy costs (pensions & healthcare) - Changing from a defined benefits to a defined contribution model that leverages HSA and 401k protecting the taxpayers. 
  • Attracting businesses in emerging sectors - this will ensure jobs and growth climate for residents and businesses.

It's always a great moment when you can learn from somebody who has accomplished so much.  Oakland county is really a great model for both the public and private sector.

Live Long and Keep Absorbing