Photo: Springdale Utah Photo by Ken Lund

from The Caterpillar Doesn’t Know

In Springdale, Utah, tensions had run particularly high over decisions about development, reaching a point where city council meetings involved yelling at each other and little else. A few citizens convinced Phillip Kent Bimstein to run for mayor. As a transplant from Chicago, he had won support because of his activities on the arts council. However, being mayor of the city was something else. But he yielded. Bimstein ran an unusual campaign: He called people on the telephone and asked them if he could come over and talk about what was on their minds. That shockingly new approach complemented his other campaign method: civility. He treated citizens and opponents politely and told his assistants to “treat each citizen equally.” That astoundingly simple approach won him the election, and it also made him an especially effective and popular mayor. Listening to the citizens (not telling them what he thought) and treating everyone politely (not shouting them down) turned the town around.

Reprinted from The Caterpillar Doesn’t Know (How Personal Change is Creating Organizational Change), by Kenneth R. Hey and Peter D. Moore; The Free Press, Simon & Schuster, Inc., © 1998 by Inferential Focus, Inc. Page 118.


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