Do not go to sleep and don’t click away! OK? I’m going to talk about strategic plans. WAIT! Come back! I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit, so you know what they are and why they matter to every single person who lives or works in a community. Yes, even you.
The Big Picture
Strategic planning is so important here that we have an entire award-winning division in the County Manager’s Office dedicated to just that. (We also profiled of one of our former planners who gave us a peek at the department.) These plans guide County leaders to focus on big issues.
When asked to very simply explain strategic planning, Strategic Planning & Evaluation Director Monica R. Allen said, it’s “determining where you want to go and how you will get there.” So, if we want to go to an amusement park (where we want to go ?), we have to think about whether we want to drive or fly (how we’ll get there). It gives departments a chance to look beyond the day-to-day decisions to the future.
The first thing you should know is there’s a corporate strategic plan (we’ll call it “The Plan”) that County leaders use to guide them when making decisions. If you clicked on The Plan and were immediately shocked by the length, that’s OK! Remember, I’m going to walk you through it. The second thing you should know is that departments also have their own strategic plans that somewhat align to The Plan.
So what holds it all together? The Board of County Commissioners’ vision for the County. Here’s what they want to see, “Mecklenburg County will be a community of pride and choice for people to LIVE, LEARN, WORK, and RECREATE.” Sounds big, right? We’re one of the fastest growing counties in the nation so it’s important that we have a big vision! The Plan will help us get there.
The Plan covers three years of the County’s vision through five goals: accountable government, connected community, economic opportunities, healthy community, and safe community. The Plan also has key initiatives. In simple terms, County leaders want our community to be a safe and healthy place to live with a financially stable government.
Everything the County does should help achieve one of those goals.
“Vision without execution is hallucination.”Attributed to Thomas Edison
There’s some question about who actually said that. But there’s no question that after you have the plan, you have to actually do something.
One of the most important parts of any plan is how you can tell whether it was successful. That means having specific things you measure (sometimes through a survey). It also requires checking your progress, both along the way and at the end. Why check partway through? If you see the plan isn’t working out, you have time to make some changes. So, yes, strategic planning is very important! But after you have a plan, you still have a lot of work!