I came to Capitol Hill as a staff member at a time of plenty. Honoraria – payments for speeches to trade associations at $2,000 per, free tickets to games and events, and shrimp. Lots of shrimp. Not in Forrest Gump variety, but in Brobdingnagian quantity.
I never filled my pockets with them as interns sometimes did, but I did stand by the shrimp, munching and weaving a circle around the mound.
I thought about this describing a large organization grown lazy and disconnected from its mission, giving competitors inroads to its clients and tying its staff up with internal navel-gazing and accountability for increasing layers of trivia.
What happened? How did the organization grow more sclerotic even as the danger to its market share increased? Standing by the shrimp. Locked into place by plenty. Instead of moving and connecting and working the room, this organization avoided risk above all, missing signals and opportunities and relationships beyond the mound.
An inebriated man leaves a bar one night to walk back to his apartment. Arriving at his door, he has lost his keys. Retracing his steps along the dark street, he pauses under the streetlight and drops to his knees for a look. A friend passes by and asks what’s up.
“Dropped my keys.”
“Under the light?”
“No idea, but it’s much brighter here.”