California Economic Summit: Going Beyond Random Acts of Excellence

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Bill Mueller, chief executive of Valley Vision, closing the 2016 California Economic Summit in Sacramento this week. (Photo Credit: Skip Jones/CA Fwd)

Originally published by Valley Vision

December 14 marked the close of the California Economic Summit, an audacious public policy experiment that is bringing together leaders from the Redwood coast down to San Diego to listen, learn and work together. Why audacious?

First, the Summit runs counter to the current fashion that a single leader, plain speaking with a bold vision, is sufficient to lead in a time of turbulence.  This is pure fantasy.  Whether military generals or heads of state, captains of industry or nonprofit leaders – history teaches us that leadership is synonymous with teamwork.  Progress requires large numbers of committed leaders working together in still larger teams, aligning and driving towards a common outcome. Any team grows in proportion to the aspiration.  The California Economic Summit provides that missing forum, outside the state capitol, for Californians to gather, find inspiration, common ground, and a place to forge successful public-private partnerships to improve affordable housing, expand water supplies, build the next generation workforce, and more.  And our collective efforts are working.

Second, in a time of turbulence, it is important that we have an “open-source” approach to problem-solving.  It's audacious for some to look to innovation centers like Silicon Valley, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, places not only generating break-through policy ideas, but inspiring other regions on how best to activate them.  In most cases the revolutionary policies that will help us most are not yet operating at a State scale. They are first launched and tested in cities and regions, forged through collaboration, and fueled by local talent and local investment.  The Summit is taking what someone here called “random acts of excellence” (that aren’t so random) and places them center stage, inviting consideration by decision-makers that with the right support and smart implementation elevates these innovative policies and approaches so that they can change lives elsewhere.

Third, the Economic Summit holds that truly sustainable success can only be found in the intersection between economic, environmental, and community growth.  These three factors, called the triple-bottom-line by business leaders, are the new way of doing business and the yardstick that Summit organizers use to measure success.  It is a sharp break from a short-term, single-purpose mindset, and one that next generation leaders are firmly adopting.  

And just who are the organizers of the Summit?  The civic leadership groups, California Forward, which supports and drives the year-round policy agenda of the Summit, and the California Stewardship Network (CSN), a partnership of 15 regional groups with powerful volunteer boards committed to making the State golden for everyone. As Valley Vision’s CEO, I am proud to have been elected by my colleagues as the next co-chair for CSN; joining Bill Allen, President and CEO of the LA County Economic Development Council.

It is inspiring to have been around hundreds of leaders over two days who represent the dreams and diversity of California who are committed to do things differently — to be audacious leaders who challenge the status quo and value teamwork.  I believe, as thousands of others do, that this is the only way we can unlock the tremendous energies of an entire country, a pioneering state and a set of dynamic regions.  I hope you will find out more by reviewing the 2016 Summit Playbook and policy guide, and connect with us as we take on these challenges together.


Bill Mueller is Chief Executive of Valley Vision, a civic leadership organization headquartered in Sacramento serving five million residents in Northern California.


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