The Right Road: Planning for The Future

June 4, 2021

By Larry Hanson, GMA Executive Director

We all know the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Did you know that saying is paraphrased from Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale Alice in Wonderland? The Cheshire Cat in Carroll’s tale shares with Alice that it “…doesn’t matter which way you go,” after Alice admits she doesn’t care where she goes—as long as it’s out of Wonderland. This exchange is timely and relevant as we plan for our future, whether as an individual, a leader, a family or a city.

To be successful, we must plan. One message I always share in training is the relationship between both patience and trust. We can be in a hurry and create a failure or be patient and create a success. One common element to successful cities and organizations is a commitment to planning. Of course, it takes time and often funding. But its time and money well spent so that we create a roadmap that points us in the right direction and down the right road. Taking the right road leads to prosperity and success. Success is built upon the heavy lifting of an engaged, informed and involved citizenry, open and transparent conversation and minds, respect for the ideas of every interested individual, and a commitment to serve the needs of ALL citizens in a way that is fair, equitable and inclusive. Serving to achieve “the greatest good for the most people” is something we should all commit ourselves to as we plan for our cities and our future.

As the rollout of the American Rescue Plan commences, GMA is here to support all 537 cities as the plan to expend those funds. This again shows the importance of developing plans that are based upon the needs of cities and citizens, plans that make wise use of precious funds aimed at helping those most impacted by the pandemic, and to help cities meet their operational needs and address revenue losses. I encourage you to make plans with the input of citizens, so these investments are felt across your city. This planning will lift those that have been harmed through no fault of their own, support businesses, help prevent homelessness, and invest in your infrastructure to poise your city for growth and prosperity in the future.

Alice went on to say that it didn’t matter where she went, so long as she got somewhere. The cat’s reply, “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you walk long enough.” The message here is to ensure positive outcomes for our cities, and to secure true equity of opportunity and excellence in outcomes for all citizens, then the road we take must include planning and be selected deliberately. We must solicit feedback, use data as the bedrock for decision making, develop strategies for success and be intentional and committed to the road ahead.

The journey to success may be long, but the intentionality of planning will ensure we take the right road to reach a destination of accomplishment, as opposed to our destination being “somewhere” or “anywhere.” I know your city will follow the road to success and we stand ready to support you.

This story originally appeared in the May/June 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities magazine.

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