“Let’s Plan On It!”

This quote is considered a Berra-ism — one of many attributed to the late, great Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.” How true. So, let’s be thankful for the planning efforts that help us know where we’re going and that are occurring right now. There are projects as forward-thinking as the Visioning Initiative, tactics as short term as weekly staff/management meetings, and methods as reliable as the annual two-day strategic planning workshop.  The workshop occurs this month and helps us decide where we’re going in the next twelve or more months.

On November 16 and 17, before Thanksgiving transports us into a world of food, family and festivals, your Town Council and staff will hold their strategic planning workshop at the Omni Hotel on Hilton Head Island. Please consider this your personal invitation to attend! Details of the agenda and workshop hours will soon be finalized and published. As this prose is penned, Town staff is working with the Beaufort County Broadcast Channel staff to livestream the workshop sessions. Our goal is to provide complete and convenient access to everyone who is interested. When we gather to discuss the priorities that will guide the distribution of Town resources, accessibility is critical to achieve an informed citizenry, which is certainly the hallmark of good government and something for which we may be thankful.

Why do we hold annual strategic planning workshops? From my experience with the past three annual events, our goal in setting aside the time and resources to vet and establish priorities is one of the best ways to provide clarity, identify initial obstacles and challenges, and ultimately produce tangible and quantitative results. Take as examples some of the top priorities from the past three annual sessions: Mitchelville, Visioning, Sanitary Sewer, Heirs Property Matters, Stormwater Plans, Paving of Dirt Roads, as well as Entertainment, Arts, Cultural & Heritage Planning. Each of these has gained significant ground (some literally!) as a result of identification as a priority, establishing a direction for the community on these matters and allowing the application of resources to achieve the goals set for the priorities.

So how does the workshop operate? Long before the actual two-day affair, a facilitator, currently Patrick Ibarra of the Mejorando Group in Glendale, Arizona, (gettingbetterallthetime.com) speaks with Council members individually. Based on this, he develops a list of workshop discussion items. Simultaneously, Town staff engages in efforts to assist Council in discussing strategic options, obstacles and opportunities, both to address current incomplete priorities and potential new ones. When the actual workshop takes place, Mr. Ibarra delves deeper into the level of commitment and consensus of Councilors on the key matters identified. Staff provides continual input as the discussion unfolds and becomes dynamic. At the end, a list of priorities is established that is then broadly communicated and distributed among the Town’s departments, boards, commissions, affiliated organizations and individuals in a manner meant to achieve organizational efficiency and success. In short, the workshop operates well!

These planning efforts play a key role in continuing to protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, for which we are thankful. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, lets also be grateful that we all wound up in this veritable wonderland we call Hilton Head Island (whether we knew where we were going or not). And let’s finish with another Berra-ism: “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Come, witness how priorities are established and know that your entire Town Council and staff are grateful for every one of you, as we plan for our future together.

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