Vail Daily column: The worst metric ever
Congratulations and condolences to Tuesday’s election winners. Thank you for your commitment to our community (be it local, state or national representation). You have a thankless job and your time and effort to make our community/state a better place is appreciated.
I’m especially happy that election season is over this year. And not for the same reason as most; I’m going out on a limb assuming the end to negative advertising and the plethora of special interest groups filling our telephones, newspapers, televisions and radio airwaves (at least for this election cycle, anyway) is why everyone else is happy.
I too am glad the bombardment of advertisements is over, but I’m especially happy because I believe this election season brought out an unfortunate topic and a meaningless metric within our community.
Strangely (and unfortunately), we had political campaigns in the recent election cycle build around the idea and concept of minimizing others due to an artificial sense of community based on how long the opponent has lived here. This is a self-perpetuating and self-important metric that has no meaning in the real world.
Community is a weird word; loosely defined, a community is nothing more than a group of people who live in the same street, neighborhood, town or, in this case, the same valley. More specifically, I opine that communities that don’t welcome talent, innovation and growth opportunities are destined to fail. We are a great community, but sometimes we’re not an overly welcoming community. This presents a self-imposed obstacle to our continued success.
Don’t get me wrong — newcomers to any community should listen, absorb and learn (but then again, so should everyone else). Newcomers should also feel welcome to contribute at any point in time (again, just like everyone else). We’ve all met people who have lived here two months, two years, 20 years or more who are fantastic people who have much to add to our community. Similarly, we’ve also all met people who have lived here two months, two years, 20 years or more who are good people but who have nothing to add to our community. The consistent thing about either group of people is that how long they have lived here is meaningless to their commitment and contribution to our community.
Why is it that companies often do nationwide executive searches? Successful businesses hire executives based on competency and qualifications, not tenure. This is a case where we should mirror the business world by respecting our residents’ competency and qualifications and not tenure in the community.
Using our human capital — regardless of how long they have lived in the valley — is a huge value to our community. Despite not living here for some random, pre-determined length of time, our second-home owners, seasonal residents, young professionals, entrepreneurs, retired CEOs and other retirees all have value to add to our community. Discounting their voices due to the artificial and meaningless metric of length of residency is our loss.
Community is essential and important. The economic development effort and research conducted by the Vail Valley Partnership has shown that developing a sense of community and integrating into the community remains a challenge and helps define people (and thus, businesses) that succeed in our rural resort environment. Community integration for any newcomer is challenging enough without adding artificial barriers and challenges.
I choose to believe that we are better than judging people based on their tenure in our fair valley. It is a meaningless metric as it does not automatically qualify or disqualify a candidate from being competent for a job or volunteer opportunity or even public office. It is a meaningless metric, as it does not measure outcomes or intentions or character. And it is a meaningless metric, as it does not help talented people integrate into the community or provide any insight into what value that individual might have to add via their service.
“How long have you lived here?” is a simple conversation piece that has many layers of unintended harm that come across to newcomers looking to integrate into our community as standoffish and unwelcoming. This can drive away good people; and we can’t have too many good people in our community.
We are shooting ourselves in the foot by requiring our local talent to meet the worst metric ever: Using tenure as a basis for competency.
Chris Romer is the president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.