Romer: Collaboration is more effective than coercion
In Eagle County, we understand the importance of collaborating and building coalitions. We can build better outcomes to best achieve our goals by working together. Time and again, there are those who embrace public shaming as a tactic to pressure outcomes that will not result in win-win-win scenarios.
Collaboration helps ensure a win for the community, a win for the private sector, and a win for the service delivery partners. Shaming and pressure are designed for one side to win at the expense of others. This made me think of two television shows that offer accurate glimpses into the coercive approach.
Consider a scene in the recent season of Ozark:
MARTY: I hope you’re proud of yourself.
AGENT MILLER: I don’t know. Depends. What’s the topic?
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MARTY: What do you think your bosses are gonna say when you gotta release Sam Dermody in a day because you don’t have enough evidence to hold him?
AGENT MILLER: I think you’re using him to launder money.
MARTY: Well, I think you’re using him to put pressure on me, you know. I also think that you no longer care about who you scare, who you hurt. I think that you’re Agent Evans. Or Petty. I don’t think you give a s— about whose life you destroy or if the charges are b——-.
AGENT MILLER: You don’t get to be self-righteous with me.
MARTY: I mean, it’s not against the law to lose money in a casino.
AGENT MILLER: No, it’s not. Money-laundering, on the other hand…
MARTY: You took this job … to do some good. Am I right? And yet, I have given you really solid information about cases that you care about, and you haven’t taken it. Have you ever stopped to think about why?
AGENT MILLER: I’m not gonna be compromised by you.
MARTY: It’s not about me, and it shouldn’t be about you, either. You know, it should be about all of us trying to do the good that we can do, right now. Your bosses understand that you know? But you think you’re above that. You’re dragging Sam off? For what? You’re waiting for the world to change to fit your pristine belief system, and it’s just never gonna happen. What will happen is that you’re gonna lose your career, Maya. But hey, you’ll be right.
“Game of Thrones” fans will recall that one of the most unforgettable episodes and scenes of the series is when Cersei Lannister, who had been imprisoned by the violent religious group The Sparrows, is “freed” — but before she can resume her life in the palace, she is stripped nude, and paraded through the streets to be jeered and spat at. As she is surrounded by people shouting obscenities, Cersei hears “Shame! Shame! Shame!” intoned over and over.
Pressure and coercion from one side on the other to get their desired outcome is less impactful than working together for a mutually beneficial desired outcome. Attempting to create coerced cooperation by creating an “us versus them” environment might work on television, but isn’t the best approach in real life.
This happens repeatedly with outside stakeholders who attempt to engage in Eagle County for their singular benefit. Focusing on Ozark-style coercion or “Game of Thrones”-style public shaming rather than focusing on collaborative solutions simply isn’t how we work in here.
Television shows are not reality but can provide a glimpse into how not to do things. Collaboration and working together isn’t always the easiest way to do things but it is often the most effective.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.