Yes, the web page really does call for “Addintional Comments.” Well, I suppose consultants aren’t hired for their spelling or grammar. Otherwise there wouldn’t be all that bizarre capitalization or the missing punctuation. But you’re here to read my summation of the Collingwood’s fledgling strategic plan, not my editorial critique.
Which is pretty simple: woo-hoo. I reiterate that a strategic plan can be either practical and pragmatic, or woo-hoo. This one is woo-hoo.
By which I mean it is airy fairy collection of generalities, seasoned with ignorance, ideology and irrelevancies and very little actual direction. Well, most woo-hoo plans are. They aren’t meant as a guide to actual accomplishments: they’re meant to make people feel like they accomplished something without having to do the heavy lifting.
It’s not a “strategic plan” – it’s merely a feel-good exercise by people who didn’t want to ask questions in case the facts spoil their recommendations (like finding our your action item was done last term or there has been a corridor to the waterfront for several years now…).
Peter Drucker, author of Management Tasks and Responsibilities (1973) listed four misconceptions about the term “strategic planning” that you can see plague Collingwood’s proposed plan:
- Strategic planning is not a box of tricks, a bundle of techniques.
- Strategic planning is not forecasting.
- Strategic planning does not deal with future decisions.
- Strategic planning is not an attempt to eliminate risk.
What strategic planning is, Drucker said, is:
…the continuous process of making present entrepreneurial (risk-taking) decisions systematically and with the greatest knowledge of their futurity; organizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organized, systematic feedback.
Get that? It’s a continual process, not a one-time effort. And it’s measurable. Collingwood’s “plan” is nothing more than a bundle of wishful thinking tied up with buzzwords.
It really doesn’t matter that the town is already doing much of what the plan recommends, nor that the previous council accomplished so many of the things identified as action items. These facts get in the way of those dancing around this May pole, so they will be ignored. “The common people,” Confucius said, “can be made to follow a path but not to understand it.” (Analects, Book VIII, 9)*
This is the vaunted “plan” for our future as promised by now-Deputy Mayor Saunderson during the election campaign within 90 days of being elected. It will be presented on the 287th day, only late by half a year. It won’t be counted as an accomplishment, merely as a waste of taxpayers’ money.
As a “plan,” it’s as useful as comprehensive, insightful and focused guide to the town’s present and future as a fishing pole is to planting corn.