For this week’s discussion, we watched a Ted talk by Max Hardy, who went into an in-depth discussion of the role of public administrators in shaping and meeting community needs. Public servants and various government agencies are usually tasked with defining the needs of a certain community. Needs assessment requires the expertise of professionals in different fields, such as engineers, architects, researchers, and so on. However, in his speech, Max Hardy tries to demonstrate that it is exceptionally important to acknowledge the role of the communities themselves in defining their own needs (TEDxTalks, 2017). After all, government representatives are often too quick to dismiss what local residents have to say. Instead, they try to sell a solution to a community, although the problem might not have existed in the first place. Hardy offers an example by sharing his first experience of working as a consultant to resolve a water waste issue.
In order to define the needs of a community, public administrators have to engage local residents in conversations regarding the problems they might have. These discussions often produce unexpected outcomes as government agencies fail to take into consideration a variety of specific nuances come out. Thus, each and every community has to be regarded as an asset, which should become an integral part of the process of needs assessment.
Furthermore, it is crucial to involve communities in decision-making by offering them an opportunity to engage in the creative process of generating solutions. It is impossible to set expectations and define exactly what we are trying to accomplish as public administrators without asking the right questions. According to Hardy, in order to create truly enduring solutions, it is imperative not to ask ordinary questions (TEDxTalks, 2017). Instead, government officials are tasked with forming specific questions based on the conversations with community members.
TEDxTalks (2017). Questions change everything in community management: Max Hardy [Video]. YouTube. Web.