The TASC List: Que sera, sera

“When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother
What will I be?
Will I be pretty, will I be rich?
Here’s what she said to me:
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be will be,
The future’s not ours to see,
Que sera, sera.”
When Doris Day introduced these words 60 years ago, she considered it only a children’s song. But it climbed the charts to number one in the UK and number two on the Billboard Hot 100.  It became her signature piece and biggest hit. Hear it once and you’ll be humming it for a long time.
So it was that I tried to persuade my five-year-old granddaughter (and flower girl) to accompany me in the song at a Cape Cod wedding this summer for a bride named Sarah. The performance would not have made the charts, but it certainly made me think of the future, its inevitability, and the always exciting opportunities for change.
Here in Wilton, the fresh breezes of innovative thinking are sweeping through the town. Check out, for example, the lead article in last week’s Bulletin about considering a modified approach to setting next year’s education budget. It includes expectations for a declining student enrollment. While it requires peering into the future through best-estimated projection methods, it also provides a framework for understanding local experience and history of over- and under-capacity classrooms, and the potential returns to a focus on student-centric versus staff-centered metrics.
It is our good fortune here that we have on the Board of Finance several individuals well-versed in quantitative methods and the widespread applicability of data-driven and analytically based decision processes. Some of them may arrive later this year in a position of increased responsibility across a broader opportunity of problem and solution areas. The potential for more than simply fiscal maturity, stability, and sustainability is enormously encouraging.
At the same time, there is good work afoot in the unfolding process behind the Miller-Driscoll renovation project, and the search for cost reduction underneath its many phases and complex tasks. The Value Engineering approach can unleash significant opportunities for choices, alternative selections, lower-cost options, and more effective methods when applied to the overall project life cycle. TASC will continue to support the public sharing of information on the products and yields of the VE approach. Taxpayers will be pleased to learn of this kind of diligence, this type of thinking about the future, and tangible ways to influence those days ahead.
Increasing support for a town-wide audit mentality will also play an important role in minimizing future situations and issues that may arise from poorly managed functions and lack of complete adherence to standards, practices, and protocols. By taking action now to establish the internal realms of controls and auditability, we can impact discipline, deterrence, and improved reporting for more predictable results.
In summary, we may not be able to change the future in many ways, but we might be able to influence it with good planning and sharpened insight. The tools to do just that are available for our use. And we have our own inventory of human resources in Wilton to employ those tools and related techniques.
Quantitative and analytical techniques by themselves will not produce results. We also need the application of common sense, judgment, and the experience of appointed positional and ordinary citizen thought leaders to make useful outcomes a reality. The challenges and the changes won’t be easy. But in the hearts and minds of several people in influential positions lie the seeds for doing the right thing, and doing it better.
Therein sits the future promise. A Wilton for tomorrow worth working for today. Your vote of course is integral to all of this. Tomorrow’s first selectman wants your honest and open views and will listen to them. The boards feel likewise.
“Que sera, sera” may be powerful and compelling. But the watchwords “Make it happen” will come into major play this fall and throughout the years ahead.

TASC stands for Toward a Stronger Community. Contact: