too much talking – not enough doing.

A fitting post over at one my favored morning blogs Good at talking vs. good at doing — at least in relation to marketing…. But then… pretty much everything is marketing these days. Consider my post from yesterday which discusses recent news articles surrounding an effort to have salmon as our Provincial fish.

barriers to migration

What is this? but little more than marketing.

Some folks figure that by having a fish as some provincial or national icon that this will change how we treat them. Fair enough; however, I see it as little more than marketing — or talking about things rather than actually doing things that matter.

Plus… how has this changed things for bald eagles in the United States? — a national icon. (not much…)

(This of course leads back to salmon — ironically enough — as some estimates suggest that over 75% of North America’s bald eagles migrate to the NW coast of this continent to feast on salmon every summer and fall — riding the thermals of the Rocky Mountains and other sections of crashing land masses.)

So then let me ask you this — with the decent little nugget of a post from Godin first:

Good at talking vs. good at doing

This is the chasm of the new marketing.

The marketing department used to be in charge of talking. Ads are talking. Flyers are talking. Billboards are talking. Trade shows are talking.

Now, of course, marketing can’t talk so much, because people can’t be easily forced to listen.

So the only option is to be in charge of doing. Which means the product, the service, the interaction, the effluent and other detritus left behind when you’re done.

If you’re in marketing and you’re not in charge of the doing, you’re not going to be able to do your job.

My question is: what is the Cohen Commission (the public inquiry into the decline of Fraser River sockeye)?

Is it little more than a marketing exercise?

What will be “the product, the service, the interaction, the effluent and other detritus left behind” when the Commission is done?

The Commission is not to find fault with any particular organization (e.g. Department of Fisheries and Oceans) or individual — and Justice Cohen will simply make non-binding recommendations.

Here’s to hoping the detritus left behind is substantial, not simply marketing, and includes a whole lot of doing. That “doing” (in my mind) will hopefully include a fundamental overhaul of the federal department responsible for looking after wild Pacific salmon.

As you may notice in yesterday’s post — it appears that the department is failing salmon on both coasts: East and West. As I’ve suggested in past posts, there’s a disease it’s called East Coast cod-itis.

It’s symptoms include: change lethargy, repeated public inquiries, bulging of employee budgets, and an overall bureaucratic malaise. It does not appear to be terminal, and cures are as far away as cures for the common cold.

inspired by Saul Steinberg

And thus, I suppose when it comes to wild salmon we might as well settle into a prolonged period of snotty noses, sniffling, and fishy smelling sneezes when it comes to wild salmon…. or maybe — just maybe — the overall approach to looking after wild salmon may move from a mass marketing exercise to a mass doing exercise.

For example, further empowering the thousands upon thousands of folks involved in salmon stewardship (there have been short whiffs of this in the past from Fisheries and Oceans, things like the late 1990s $100 million Habitat Conservation and Stewardship Program) — as opposed to spouting off about “ecological mysteries” when Fraser sockeye populations have gone from highs of 160 million in the 1800s to devastating lows of 1 million last year.

The “ocean productivity” story is getting a bit old and stale… is it really so bad that we can go from 160 million to 1 million (remember of one species of salmon in one river) in about a 150 years?

If the productivity is really, truly that devastatingly bad — what does this mean for us? Aren’t we simply just one more critter in the ecosystem?

2 thoughts on “too much talking – not enough doing.

  1. kd

    interesting post Salmon Guy….but far too logical for any DFO types to get as ‘consultation’ and ‘process’ is the new order of the day. Talk is relatively cheap, even if it does cost millions, compared to the cost of actually ‘doing something’. Buying out boats or licences…or closing fisheries are far more costly than organising a few meetings or roundtables etc..

    the Dept is swamped and suffocated by process…and I would agree wholeheartedly that a major overhaul of the Dept would be far more beneficial than yet another Inquiry.

  2. salmon guy Post author

    Thanks for the comment — and yes, very much agreed. It is much easier for financial beancounters to justify spending by saying: “but look how many meetings we had” . This is similar to the measures of “stream habitat restored” or other measures that have been utilized in the past to suggest that habitat ‘restoration’ projects were achieving something. As we all know, it often isn’t measured by an increase in salmon populations…

    Plus, as i’ve asked for well over a decade — how do we “restore” (e.g. bring back to previous condition) stream habitat that has had 800-1000 year old trees logged from its banks? Just because we throw some big logs in a stream and anchor them to big boulders or pieces of concrete (Vancouver Is.) does not mean (by and sense of the imagination) that we have “restored” a stream, or even a section of stream.

    I generally prefer the term rehabilitation. Now if we consider something on the human scale like drug rehab, or rehab for alcoholics — this is something that lasts a lifetime. So then, why don’t we approach salmon habitat rehabilitation this way — for the life of a stream?

    And then including as a crucial component of rehab-ing the habitat — close fisheries if need be to allow the new habitat to be utilized and to get those vital nutrients back into a stream ecosystem. And as you mention… make this a roundtable process that includes all aspects of a local community (from church groups to resource extraction industries).

    (A curious side point from Tom Peters new book The Little Big Things: “Use a round table instead of a square table — and the percentage of people contributing to a conversation leaps up!”

    Another great Peters’ point from that same list: “People whose offices are more than 100 ft apart might as well be 100 miles apart, in terms of frequency of direct communication.” (makes me wonder what the frequency is if folks are on different floors — or in a DFO head office in Ottawa as opposed to Vancouver…?)

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