Notice to all candidates: Don’t tell me ‘what’; tell me ‘how’
As election time approaches we are going to hear a LOT of potential politicians trying to articulate their vision for the City. They’ll be laying out their goals, and some may even layout a few objectives for how they will accomplish their goal. But let’s never forget that the life of an alderman or mayor is rarely about the big picture during their day-to-day work.
This makes sense, because we can’t all be thinking big picture all the time. We must also plan for what it is we will do each and every day to ensure we are heading toward that goal.
This is the basics of any good strategy: Goal > Objectives > Tactics.
The goal and objectives for the future of Calgary are pretty much laid out in the dozens of planning documents the City has produced. Those documents range from the most recent round of visioning in Plan It, to the big picture 100-year vision laid out in Imagine Calgary.
But what we really need are tactics: How do we get from here, to there?
(It is almost redundant of us to ask candidates what their ‘vision’ is for City, when this has already been clearly spelled out by those that have came before us. In a way, asking about their vision is asking entirely the wrong question. Again, the question should be how do we achieve the objectives we as citizens previously agreed to?)
So to that end, I invite all candidates to articulate their tactics for how they will accomplish the objectives laid out in these documents – or even how they will achieve the objectives they themselves are laying out for the City. It’s great to have goals, but unless you can tell me how you actually plan to achieve them, you’re not going to get my vote.
At the same time, and probably more importantly, I invite all citizens to accept the responsibility to not be swayed by big picture promises and instead hold every candidate’s feet to the fire by asking the simplest of questions: How? How do you plan on doing that?
This is not complicated, but it needs to be done. Tell me how you plan to make any of these dreams become a reality and I can get behind you and help you make them real. If you just tell me what your dreams for the City are, all we can do is nod in general agreement. Tell me ‘how’ and you’ll get engagement. Don’t and we are only living off your charisma. Charisma is not enough to build a great City that works for us all. We are 1 million strong, and we want to help. So articulate to us how we can help you.