The overwhelming response to this week’s Laircast - thousands of listeners and many tweets talking about former Mayor Fred’s “vision” for Hamilton - has prompted me to analyze the issue in this post.
The term “vision” is one of those annoying, overused management terms that was popular and now can mean very little. Companies that have Vision Statements often can’t distinguish them from their equally useless Mission Statements, and both sit on a plaque on a wall destined to collect dust for another 20 years.
So when a city invests a lot of money and time as Hamilton periodically does in a “visioning” exercise, my experience in this area always makes me want to test to validity of the result - much as I do with my corporate clients - only this vision matters far more.
1. Does the Vision set a clear, aspirational direction for the future?
2. Is it simple to understand and easy to remember?
3. Can the average citizen state what it is and more importantly, what it means?
4. And lastly, can it be measured and acted on or is it just a fancy statement to make Council feel like they have done their job?
So if our current City vision (correct me if I am wrong here but if I am that kind of proves points 2 & 3) is “the best place in Canada to raise a child” what does that mean?
Low childhood poverty? Low childhood obesity? Low crime? Top-notch education? Ample parks and recreation facilities? Are we measuring these or other measurables against a national baseline? How are we progressing?
If this is the vision for Hamilton and we do have measures, should we be hearing more about them? Are we sufficiently inspired?
Let me know what you think because while the word “vision” maybe almost meaningless these days, the need for Hamilton to have one that guides us could not be more important right now.