I’m pretty sure most of you have never heard of the small town of Cleveland. It’s located in east Tennessee near the larger town of Chattanooga. It’s a beautiful place that’s typical of awesome Southern small towns. Unfortunately, it’s a small town with really big problems.
Since I moved to Chattanooga a few months ago, I’ve seen in the paper almost every day some new calamity in that small town of almost 43,000 people. It’s ranged from police chiefs relieved of command, law enforcement related sex scandals, a cemetery that is leaking human remains in the walking areas, and now something else. In today’s paper was an article about a sex scandal involving a firefighter.
It’s so bad that part of the article included this little recap…
I’ve written the city council and town manager to express an offer to assist them with training. They’re hiring a new police chief soon, and I wanted to serve them by helping the new chief create a new culture in the department, something that is drastically needed to make change. The old culture there has apparently fostered a lot of small problems that snowballed into huge ones, like the sex scandals.
Occasional problems can happen anywhere but this many big problems express something much larger and way more dangerous. If you have any doubt about that, just do a websearch for “Atlantic Beach SC” and look at a few articles from the past decade. I grew up near there and can attest to the slow demise of that town.
Cleveland has apparently dove headlong into a problem pattern most often written about by popular business authors. Just a glance at some of Jim Collins’ book titles show this with Good to Great, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. The one I’m concerned with most is Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point.
To sum it up quickly, I rely upon the book’s explanation from Gladwell’s website…
The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.
It would appear as if Cleveland has already passed the tipping point, as the problems have infiltrated various areas of the city and not just one government department. As Gladwell’s book points out, it’s possible to come back, but not without targeted effort, massive change, and help from people like me. I guess it’s up to the leaders and citizens of Cleveland to decide if it’s worth it.
How about you? Do any of you work somewhere that you can see the tipping point in action? I’d love to hear from you about it.
This message was written by a team of geeks, nerds, gamers, and Dr. David Powers. You can always find us at www.drdavidpowers.com. Thanks for reading!
PS…Here’s the rest of today’s article for your enjoyment. What I really want you to pay attention to are the comments and reactions from local politicians.