Measure Twice, Cut Once: Understand the General Plan Before Changing It

The Scottsdale Republic published another column by Mike Kelly today regarding the upcoming redux of the General Plan update process. They edited his submission a bit, and they didn’t run it on AZCentral where non-subscribers can read it, so I’m reproducing the original here:

Scottsdale’s General Plan Update — The “Vision” Issue

Last year, voters rejected Proposition 430, our proposed 2011 General Plan, many because of the “vision” for Scottsdale contained therein.  With another effort to clarify Scottsdale’s “vision” approaching, let’s review the purpose of such a “vision.”

Few here are experienced in strategic planning and in the tactical implementation of a strategic plan like Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001.

Few here know of Scottsdale’s long-standing City Charter requirement for a “comprehensive” plan to guide community growth and development.  Few here know about  Arizona’s statutes mandating general plans.  Furthermore, few here can accurately describe Scottsdale’s multi-decade visioning efforts and how they were skillfully merged with Arizona’s evolving comprehensive municipal planning law to provide the form and substance of Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001.  Few here are familiar with Scottsdale’s “Shared Vision” and the “vision” expressed in our 2001 General Plan.

Regarding “vision,” Retired Marine General Tony Zinni, author of Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, (along with Tony Koltz) wrote therein that,

“Leaders lead people and organizations toward some goal.”

Zinni continues,

“Most of our government operates on a transactional basis, from day to day. We tend to go from event to event, from transaction to transaction (pure tactics) without clear direction or purpose.”  General Zinni argued that “… the leadership must plot the course and sail the ship toward its destination.  This process requires planning and design.”

General Zinni also explained that

“An enterprise’s destination, or vision should be articulated in clear, simple and credible terms. It is a statement describing the end state a leader envisions after proceeding on the course he and his organization will embark on.  It should describe a position the organization will reach in time. Whatever form it takes, the statement has to lead to a strategic plan mapping how to get there.”

Zinni argued that vague statements don’t get it, and neither does a simple statement of values.

Likewise, Ken Blanchard, noted business leadership consultant, wrote about vision and constructing a vision statement in his 2007 book Leading At A Higher Level.  Blanchard wrote:

“The purpose of a vision statement is to create an aligned organization where everyone is working together toward the same desired ends.”

“The vision provides guidance for daily decisions so that people are aiming at the right target, not working at cross-purposes with each other.”

Similarly, General Zinni argues that,

“… it’s a rare organization that can sail a coherent and consistent strategic course unguided and unmonitored.”

Scottsdale’s “vision” is the final destination, the “end state” as General Zinni calls it, which Scottsdale seeks for itself.

Those intending to participate in the General Plan “visioning” effort should study both Scottsdale’s Shared Vision and our community vision from our 2001 General Plan.

Participants should know our present vision and how it came to be before attempting to modify it.  Once this community has agreed upon an ultimate “vision” for Scottsdale, we can commence constructing a general plan designed to get us there.

Michael S. Kelly, Lt Col USMC (Ret), is a long-time supporter of Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001.

**** ATTENTION OPINIONS EDITOR:  Here, as I have come to understand them, are Scottsdale’s “Shared Vision;” and, the vision from our City Council adopted and voter-ratified Scottsdale General Plan 2001.  They are provided for your reference.

Scottsdale’s “Shared Vision”:  “Building on its southwestern heritage, stylish reputation, and innovative methods for delivering municipal services, Scottsdale has evolved into an internationally recognized resort center, art community and health care provider.  The desert community of Scottsdale has always been its own special place.  It has never tried to be all things to all people.” (Scottsdale Shared Vision, City Council Review Edition, December 14, 1992, page 35).

Scottsdale’s General Plan 2001 “Community Vision”:  “Each of us has a vision of what Scottsdale should be like in the future.  Although our visions are different, they share common qualities and reference points.  We hope to create a safe, attractive city for ourselves, our children, and for future generations.  We envision a city where the natural environment is protected, where excellent services are provided, and where citizens are true partners in their city government.  We aspire to create a city that is economically healthy and a good place to do business.  We envision a city that has balanced mobility options and connections to citywide and regional networks.  We see our community as a great place to live now and in the future.” (City of Scottsdale General Plan 2001, page 2).

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