If you are a member of local government, there are two attitudes you
can take towards business. You can choose to be a facilitator, or a
gatekeeper. Both of them technically fulfill your job requirements.
But only one leads to growth.
sure everyone observes the letter of regulation, and beyond that they
have no responsibility. Gatekeepers sit and wait for someone to come
along and try to start a business. They watch silently as the business
owner assembles her plan. Then when she tries to make a move – say,
open an office – they check the paperwork. If she has failed to dot an
I or cross a T they tell her she can’t open until she gets it fixed.
They tell her sorry, it’s out of their hands, she needs to talk to the
office that handles those forms. Then when she finally gets it fixed,
they find the next error she has committed, and the cycle starts
again. The gatekeepers code is “it is my job to make sure everyone plays by the rules”. Facilitators take the attitude that it is their job to make sure
businesses get off the ground. They don’t just sit on the sidelines
and watch. They are like that annoying paperclip in Microsoft Office –
they keep their eye open for entrepreneurs. When they find one, they
say “It looks like you’re trying to start a business. Let me help.”.
They use their experience to provide lists of all the regulatory
hurdles – obvious and not-so-obvious – that the business will have to
overcome as it gets off the ground. If a permit is needed from another
office, they use their connections to check on the status of the
application and make sure it hasn’t gotten lost in someone’s desk.
They watch over the process until it comes to completion. The facilitators fundamental creed is “it is my job to make sure you succeed”. The important thing to note here is that the facilitator DOESN’T cut
corners. Both the facilitator and the gatekeeper ensure that everyone
plays by the rules. But they have different focuses – the gatekeeper
is only interested in compliance, whereas the facilitator has the
larger goal of growth in mind, The City of York Pennsylvania has a government that is, in my
experience, staffed almost entirely by gatekeepers. And it will not become a center of
growth until they turn that attitude around.