A long time ago in my Foreign Service career I discovered the Mayor Daley rule. The Mayor Daley rule is named after the major of Chicago (take your pick which one) and it is simply a test of reasonableness. It works like this. When planning to provide/inflict a program or policy on our foreign friends and colleagues, I ask myself how I would feel if a foreigner proposed doing a similar type of program in the U.S. To make it more concrete, I think of it how it would play in Milwaukee or Chicago.
If I conclude that it would be inappropriate applied to us/me/Milwaukee/Chicago, I have to ask myself why I think it is appropriate for them. Sometimes after further consideration I understand that it IS appropriate, but usually I have to modify the program in light of the paradigm shifting thought experiment.
It is also important to be aware of CHANGING circumstances. I remember when working in Poland many of the programs that worked well right after the fall of communism were no longer useful a few years later. At some point, our tutelage is no longer required. That doesn’t mean that the job is done; it only means that we cannot take it any further. Our goal as a PRT is exactly this – helping the Iraqis get beyond needing our help.
I remember when we taught Mariza how to ride a bike. I always held onto the seat and she couldn’t balance alone. Then I let go and before she realized she was balancing by herself; she was riding. Of course, she kept on going and ran right into a brick wall on the side of the road. I can still picture it on the little road above our house in Oslo. I raced over to make sure she was okay. She was happy to have been able to ride the bike and didn’t seem to consider the fall very important.
The reason I am thinking about this has to do with some of our governance programs. A couple of our contract trainers were weathered in at Al Asad on their way to Rutbah. They wanted to turn around and go back. This would have been a bad thing, since we promised a program to Rutbah and we need to keep our word. I saw that communication in person would be better so I drove up to the landing zone with one of our Marines to encourage them to press on. They ended up taking our advice. In the process of talking to them I also got a chance to find out more about their program. The program seemed very good, but I wonder if it passed the Mayor Daley test.
I am concerned that the program was too generic. Every place is different and programs must be adjusted to local needs. I am afraid what we are doing might be like taking the Chicago program to San Francisco w/o modification. Comments about Cubs & Bears probably would not mean the same things in both places. I don’t directly manage these particular programs or people & I am not aware of any trouble, but I am making it my business to figure out how well they are working in light of the Mayor Daley rule.
The Cubs are the baseball players, right?