City council agrees to disagree on new vision
The Hamilton Spectator
(Nov 1, 2007)
Do you think Hamilton could become the greatest city in the world by 2020?
Would you laugh if council made it their vision?
Mayor Fred Eisenberger suspects so. He steered councillors and senior management away from the suggested vision yesterday, arguing for a more realistic target.
"It doesn't ring true to me," he said of the world title. "I can't sell that."
The city is paying Mac professor Chris Bart almost $50,000 to help Hamilton develop a new strategic vision. He spent eight hours yesterday teaching the city's leadership about the power of an effective mission statement and helping them write their own.
After selecting common values and a mission statement, council and management stalled on picking a vision for the city when they couldn't decide how high to strive for excellence. They agreed Hamilton should aim to be the greatest city, but where? In Southwestern Ontario? Ontario? Canada? North America? The world? The universe?
Councillor Brad Clark fought for the world, arguing a vision statement is meant to aim for the stars.
"Why aspire to be mediocre?"
He had the support of the majority of the room, except for a couple of people including Eisenberger. The mayor said the city's vision needs to be more attainable, like "Hamilton will be one of the top five cities in Canada by 2020."
After Bart explained the new vision had to be unanimous among council and staff to ensure they all commit to making it happen, he agreed to suspend the discussion until the group meets again on Dec. 6. At that meeting he also plans to help the team develop the measurements to ensure they put their goals and vision into action.
Bart, a recognized guru in his field, is being paid $49,000 for 14 days work, equalling about $3,500 a day. Eisenberger, who spearheaded the initiative, said the money is well-spent to help the city develop a strategy for the future. Though mission statements have been developed before -- a similar exercise after amalgamation led to similar statements about values and goals -- this is an important step for the new council, he said.
Professor Chris Bart asked councillors and senior managers to submit what they believe should be the city's top values. Yesterday he asked the group to whittle down the 48 submissions to seven key values. After several hours of discussion, here's what they picked: 1. Respect 2. Innovation 3. Honesty 4. Accountability 5. Teamwork 6. Excellence 7. Leadership. Bart completed the same exercise for developing a mission statement, breaking the group into small teams to write mission statements before voting on the best one. Here's the city's new mission statement: "At the City of Hamilton, our mission is to provide high quality services in a fiscally responsible, environmentally sustainable and compassionate manner, in order to ensure a healthy, safe and prosperous community. "We engage our citizens and promote a fair, diverse and accepting community. "We are a skilled, knowledgeable, collaborative and respectful organization that thrives on innovation and quality customer service. "We are led by a forward-thinking council. "The team shows leadership in carrying out their responsibilities and is valued and appreciated for their contributions and accomplishments." Council and staff couldn't agree on the city's new vision after a thorough discussion, so Bart has given them a few weeks to ponder the statement, which must be limited to one line.