“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth”


On Tuesday April 26th of last year council awarded the contract for its 20 year strategic plan (RFP CAO 2011 – 34) to DPRA to an upset limit of $75,865.00 plus disbursements and HST:  www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=58535

Last Thursday the strategic plan was unveiled at a final public consultation which I attended.

What DPRA delivered felt not unlikelike a punch in the mouth.

I wrote about it in my column this week which you can read here:

Download this file

I expected a lot more from DPRA, considering they were involved with the 2006 strategic plan and given its failings could learn from their mistakes.

That apparently was not their approach.

I wrote about my reservations with the process in a previous post here:

I then provided feedback through both a previous public planning meeting as well as a smaller meeting with the steering comittee, after my online feedback was denied.  I wrote about that in a post here: http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/survey-saysnothing

The vision statement delivered on page 1 of the plan reads:

“An innovative and sustainable community where neighbours care and businesses thrive”

Not exactly a huge leap forward from the previous version:

“Building on our past, creating our future through leadership and innovation.”

It did resolve one glaring problem that DPRA failed to recognize previously; the difference between a vision and mission statement.

So at least now we have a vision, to aspire to sustainability and innovation.

The next step is to review the objectives set out in the plan to acomplising this vision.

During the meeting multiple references were made to the plan as being a “living document”, however no evidense of how or why it is considered as such.

In fact when a question was raised as to what exactly “marching orders” were the town’s own “manager of strategic initatives” came up to the micrphone to respond to the question, and admited that they haven’t thought into implementation.


How is it the town’s manager of strategic initatives, who no doubt has been involved in this process has no comment when it comes to implementation, even worse why would he admit to the fact that in his capacity with the town has not tought about implementation.  That’s his job.

The Dilbert principle is alive and well at the town’s strategic initiatives division, another given a recent failure I commented on previously here:  http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/scary-tactics-scary-tactics I now understand why this is happening and who is responsible.

Unfortunately this is how it appears the town’s strategic plan will be implemented:


Another huge oversight was the topic regarding “community enagagement”.

DPRA championed a high level of engagement, stating : “we were there”

where was there?

A handful of events was listed.

No measurement of the egangement was provided, most likely because it was woefully inadequete, or DPRA is incapable or unwilling to collect and report these details.

The strategic plan itself lists under “Objectives and Actions for Community”:

#5 – Identify new formats, methods and technologies to effectovely and regularly engage the community.


The town actualy needs a document to suggest this objective before they begin a process to engage the community.

That is incredibly sad, and speaks to how the beuracracy has strangled out innovation at town hall and the town at large.

Resident Gregory Cook approached the mic to suggest that because the meeting was webcast (a technology approaching 10 years of age) that he felt confident that Aurora was already meeting this objective.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Should the town be webcasting meetings? Of course they should.

Perhaps a strategy needs to be adopted for how.

The webcast itself seeme to be implemented in a way that showcases from an I.T. perspective how disengaged the town’s communications department is from how residents are engaging with media.
The webcast only supported the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser, which given it’s extremely low share of browser usage looks to exlude 95% of those that would be willing to tune in:


But even webcasting this meeting, or any other, doesn’t offer any assurances that it has increased any benefit for engagement.  Instead it reliess upon the “if you build it they will come” mentality.

Metrics regarding the webcast, if collected and properly analyised may indicate viewership.
Approx 3 questions filtered, and one of those was from the CAO, so that doesn’t speak to a high level of engagement.

Not suprising considering the town operates without a Customer Service Strategy.

Mashable recently ran a piece titled “12 Top Community Managers Share Their Tips for Better Engagement”, you can read it here:  http://mashable.com/2012/03/15/community-manager-engagement-tips/

The top 2 tips were these:

Jonathan Goldmann, social media manager at Jetsetter

“Meet effort with effort. Every user who takes the time to engage with your brand should be acknowledged and cared about like they were friends of yours on your personal social networks. That means answer everything, but more importantly care about everything (and everyone) who cares about your brand.”

Sheena Medina, community manager at Fast Company

“If you’re looking to increase engagement, the question you should answer is: How can we continue to strive for meaning? At its core, social media is about making a real connection with something you care about. And it’s about building communities — which really means building relationships. You don’t have to be an “expert” to build a relationship, you just have to be invested and fully present. Your audience will immediately recognize the value you create if every decision you make is centered around bringing meaning to your community. It may sound simple, and that’s because it is. All it takes is a few conversations with people that really care, and you’re well on your way to an engaged and flourishing community.”

Constant engagement and critical engagement are the keys for implementing strategy.

Paul Schoemaker reinforces this in his March 20th article for Inc. “6 Habits of True Strategic thinkers” which you can read here:  http://www.inc.com/paul-schoemaker/6-Habits-of-Strategic-Thinkers.html

2 habits that are worth mentioning are:

Think Critically

“If you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. 
Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own.  
Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions.”



“As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by.  You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure–especially failure–are valuable sources of organizational learning.”

It is unfortunate that being the lowest tender DPRA was awarded the contract for our town’s strategic plan.

I don’t see the value in the resulting report, instead the town should have considered approaching an outfit like Decision Strategies International (http://www.decisionstrat.com/).  DSI helps leading organizations see the world differently and prepare for an uncertain future. Leveraging its academic pedigree, DSI translates advanced theories into practical business strategies.

DSI even hosts a strategic aptitude test on their website:  http://www.decisionstrat.com/make-better-decisions/leadership-quiz/

Something the entire “executive leadership team” should take and post the individual results of in the materials they report out.

Back in October 2010 I commented on how Aurora’s 2006 Strategic plan was poorly implemented, you can read that here:  http://christopherwatts.posterous.com/plan-b-do-something

Aurora’s CAO was responsible for the implementation of that plan.

There was supposed to be a “Strategic Plan Implementation Committee”

The CAO as the Chair of the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee should have reported progress in achieving the Objectives and Goals annually to Town Council. Similarly, the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee should have reported progress on an annual basis to Town staff and Community Residents.

As far as I can see that never happened.

It would be a failure to assume that the same process would magicaly be upheld with this new strategic plan.

Instead council and staff need to seriously consider reading this brief report by Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele titled “Stop Making Plans; Start Making Decisions”: http://www.lbl.gov/BLI/BLI_Library/assets/articles/OM/OM_PSDM_Stop_Making_Plans.pdf

If the town is going to spend the next 20 years meticulosuly planning instead of doing, it’s going to get punched in the mouth.

Not unlike Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau receiving a TKO at the hands of Liberal MP Justin Trudeau .  Typical Conservative blow-hard Brazeau had his ass handed to him for being a pompus buffoon.  Too much rhetoric and no follow-through is neither innovative nor sustainable.

Just ask Mike Tyson.

Watts on your mind?

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