Monday, March 22, 2010

Burning Platforms

The "Burning Platform" story is used in every sales and lobbying training I have ever attended. It may not even be true but the story is that a man was working on an offshore oil platform in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland when there was an explosion. He was surrounded by fire and his only choice was to jump into the cold waters and hope to be picked up before hypothermia set in. He jumped and was rescued in time.

When praised for his courageous risk taking, he replied, "What choice did I have? The burning platform meant certain death. The water meant possible death. It was the only rational choice."

The idea then in the art of persuasion is to create a burning platform, where the person you are talking to has no choice but take a risky action.

That's what we saw last week. By calling an emergency meeting in response to Chief Pandolfi's resignation, two of the commission members were trying to create a burning platform, presenting the situation as though there were a grave emergency requiring radical commission action.

There was no emergency and there is not an emergency today. The city is functioning, people are going to work, the police are on the job. Nothing changed.

Frank Rodriguez recognized the lack of an emergency and (in my view) correctly moved to postpone discussion of the status of the City Manager until the April commission meeting. Oscar Alfonso agreed and Dr. Paul Vogel agreed as well.

This doesn't mean the subject is closed or permanently off the table, but rather that the Commission and the citizens have time to consider the right next steps and not formulate some knee jerk response.

Cooler heads prevailed.

Kevin Vericker


  1. The actions of the Vice Mayor and one commissioner are absolutely out of line. They are in violation of the city charter calling for the manager to do things with police personnel that are suspected of wrong doings and are currently under investigation. To hear that one officer crying to the city attorney that he is at home getting paud, but can't make any overtime is really crazy. Do these cops feel that when the economy is hit that everybody should take it but them? There is not much real crime here and its not because these cops spend so much time at the Hess gas station or the little store at GVP. My father was an auto worker in Detroit and a real union man. I have never seen such a thing like these cops showing up to intimidate the commission. And to secretly tape these citizens in their yard at 3 am when they had been drinking.... do they not know what the constitution is?

  2. I hope the show of support is not over. The manager will need more help at the next meeting. I'm sure they are gearing up for another run at him. I heard that the detective leutenant in charge of the internal reviews went to see commissioner vogael and bashed the manager. That is unethical, maybe even criminal.


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