Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Great New Economic Development Books

Two new books just came across my desk, and I want to tell you about them, but I also want to tell you about the books' author, Maury Forman, a friend of mine from Washington State.

First, let's talk about Maury. If you have met Maury, you know he is not the typical community economic developer. His career is not only dedicated to doing, which is a well-known hallmark of all successful economic developers, but he is also a talented thinker, writer and teacher. In addition to these gifts, Maury has a tremendous sense of humor. Every economic developer knows it takes a sense of humor to survive in economic development. His books and speeches include lots of humor; always used tastefully.

To me, Maury Forman is an alchemist, and I doubt that he has ever used that term to describe his career calling, but that is exactly what he does when he boils down the vast world of information and knowledge to its essential underlying wisdom. If Maury were a poet, his style would be haiku. In Maury's books, using fewer words and the right words is preferable to filling hundreds of pages. And did I fail to mention that all of Maury's writings include wonderfully entertaining cartoons?

Maury, who holds a Ph.D. from the Political Science Department at New York University with an emphasis in Healthcare, is the Director of Education and Training for Washington State's Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. In recent months, he has been on temporary assignment as the Manager of Education and Outreach for Economic Development for the State of Washington.

So, that is Maury Forman. Now, a little bit about his two recent books.

The first is Your Town, A Destination: The 25 Immutable Rules of Successful Tourism, which Maury co-authored with Roger Brooks, a tourism development specialist and President of Destination Development, Inc. I won't list all 25 success rules described in the book, but will mention three that I especially like.

The first is Rule #4, Toilets Attract More Than Flies (The Rule of Necessity). What can I say but when it comes to community tourism, you must create what's necessary to respond to the tourist's overwhelming sense of "I gotta go."

Rule #13 is Insanity Has Its Own Rewards, which speaks to the need for communities to find and market what is unique to them. Knowing Maury, he would probably say that this rule even applies to the tourist's "going experience."

Finally, I love Rule #20, Make It Easy to Tell Your Cows from My Cows, which speaks to the branding issue with which many communities struggle. In this regard, I suppose Maury would remind us to "sell the beef" as well as the "sizzle" when it comes to our cows. Or maybe he would say, communities need to do a better job of "milking" their tourism resources to create a greater economic impact. Makes me wonder if there are any "sacred cows" when it comes to tourism development. Hmmm...

So, that's the first book.

Maury's second book, The Ten Commandments of Community Leadership, was co-authored with Michele Harvey, the Communications Coordinator for the Association of Washington Cities.

Three of the ten commandments jump out at me:

1. Thou shalt develop a strategic plan. To that, I say amen! The authors provide good solid advice on planning, including connecting community vision to the plan, building a collaborative plan, defining success, and linking the plan to budgets and other resources.

2. Thou shalt invest in education and training. Another amen brother! The authors encourage a broad-based approach to strengthening education and workforce development, covering the spectrum from short-term job training to strengthening K-12 systems and higher education.

3. Thou shalt promote respect. Yet another amen from me. Human relation is a vital aspect of economic development. I like the authors' suggestions under this commandment: acknowledge all ideas; critique ideas and not people; listen attentively; give credit where due; compromise; understand cultural differences; and distinguish facts from beliefs and opinions.

You can order the Ten Commandments from Moses at this link, and the tourism book can be ordered by sending an email here. Maury Forman can be reached by email.


Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

The tourism book just went into my planner as a next purchase. And I'm on my way to check out the link now. Glad I found you again, Don.

Anna Schramke, CEcD said...

I gotta get these books and pass them around. In February our annual meeting speaker discussed the importance of branding (and lack thereof in our county). Our tourism director nearly had a fit because she feels she's got her brand. Talk about sacred cows... and if you know anything about Green County, we "are" cows. Thanks Don, for bringing a little levity to our work.