We used to call it long range planning but today the preferred phrase is strategic planning — actually I prefer the concept of scenario planning but let’s take it one step at a time. I think people felt long range planning was a bit too disconnected from the needs of the day and as a result a lot of effort was spent to plan for things that never happened. To some extent communities are no different than the people that live in them, they have limited attention spans and when you’ve got turnover on Council and staff it can be hard to get the continuity needed to keep long term plans on track. So strategic planning is in, long range planning is out. The good news is Kent has done a lot of both and the current Council is gearing up to pick up where the previous work left off and we’ve made that easier by going deep into the archives to dig out the community plans and upload them all on the Kent360 web site for your reference too.
If you look in the upper right blue column on the Kent360 site you’ll see a new link titled Kent Strategic Plan. If you click on that link it will take you to the site where we’ve uploaded a lot of valuable planning information. I’ll continue to tweak the site to make it more user friendly and readable but in the meantime I wanted to give you something to look at while we get started.
It’s been an interesting process to uncover a lot of significant community planning work that has gone on in Kent. I say uncover because for whatever reason the community has been way too humble about it’s planning work and as a result new staff (like me) or new Council members don’t always have a great sense for what precedes them — but now we’ve changed that.
Being the naive new guy I offered to help Council out by pulling all the files out and assembling a community planning portfolio. That sounded easy enough but it turned out to be a major undertaking which culminated in over 600 pages of community plans, surveys and related strategy documents all assembled in a 3 inch binder for Council and uploaded on the Kent360 web site for everybody else.
The office staff wasn’t exactly thrilled with my desire to gather all this stuff in one document but now that we’re done I think they would even concede that it was worth the effort. We have a substantial body of work that reflects the priorities of the Kent community over time which previously wasn’t readily available in any one place — unless you hung out in the city basement storage rooms. Now we have it documented for posterity sake and hopefully the availability of this information should enable us to focus our efforts more astutely and dare I say, be more strategic in our planning from this point forward.
Besides making interesting historical reading, this information makes it possible for us to avoid reinventing the wheel and re-planning that which has been planned for over two decades. And the truth is, there are items in the plans that have been hanging around for 20 years. The message therein suggests that today’s plans have to be about action. The mission, vision and community values statements are well-heeled but for many issues it’s time to put the plans to work.
Council will be discussing the next steps for strategic planning this week in Committee, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out the new page for Kent Strategic Planning.