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Developing goals

Ruth Haag • Dec 10, 2013 at 3:00 PM

We Keep Rehashing Increasing Taxes, Using Sandusky Bay Pavilion, Moving City Hall - Let’s simplify by developing goals.


Many issues are rehashed in Sandusky, almost monthly, with no solutions in sight. A big part of the problem may be that these issues and projects are being discussed without the cohesiveness of goals, or a plan.


Developing goals is often made more complex than it needs to be. People like to first set up goals, followed by objectives, and then a list of projects. This is often combined with a vision statement and a mission statement. By the time they are done everyone is confused and still no one knows what to do. 


I like to think of a goal as a very generalized direction in which you wish to proceed. For example, Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, made a goal for GE to be No. 1 or No. 2 in every 

industry that it participated in. With this goal he increased the value of GE by 4000%. 


If you have developed good goals, then day-to-day decisions become very easy. For example, say that you made a goal for rearing your child to be a “healthy, viable adult.” Sound too simple? Think about it; when your child has a temper tantrum in a grocery store, what do you do? Without a goal, you might buy the child a bribe to keep them quiet, and allow you to finish shopping. But with the goal you would think, “Healthy, viable adults know how to control their emotions.” So you would take your child outside the store and began to help her learn to control herself. Likewise, when the child is 16 and asks for a little red car, what would you do? Without the goal, you might buy them the car, after all, the other teenagers are getting cars. With the goal, you would think about the fact that teenagers often have accidents with little read cars, so you would not let her have one. Each decision is related to the question: “Will this help create a healthy viable adult?” When your children began to fight with one another, as most siblings do, you would consider that healthy viable adults often need family support in the future, and therefore it would be better if they learned to solve differences without fighting. You would then teach them how to resolve their differences. Have a goal, make a decision easily.


In recent years the City of Sandusky, Ohio has created many project lists, but has not created goals. At times the outcomes of the projects have been in conflict with one another. To avoid this in the future, what should our goals be? Here are some ideas, some of which are mutually exclusive:


-Bring large industry back to the City

-Bring more tourists into the City

-Bring more small businesses into the City

-Bring more people to live in the City

-Focus on the people living in the City and provide the best services possible for them

-Create a self-sustaining infrastructure


The goals that the City Commission sets would be used to measure each decision that comes before Commission. If the decision would not further the goals, then it would be voted down.


For example, if the City set a goal of bringing in more tourists to the downtown, then a decision to improve all of the City parks, including the Sandusky Bay Pavilion, would be easy to make and implement. For this one the City already has a few studies completed. If, on the other hand, the City chose a goal to bring in large industry, their decisions would revolve around making space available for industrial plants. If this were our goal, then it makes sense that the site of the former APEX plant is currently being cleaned up to commercial/industrial standards. This makes the site ready for more industry.


On the other hand, if one of the City’s goals was to bring in more people to live, then the decision to clean up the former Sandusky Cabinets site to residential standards makes sense. This makes the site ready for houses for families with children.


Many of our issues, such as that of increasing income tax, would be easily resolved if we knew where the City was going and what we want to spend the money on.


What goals would you suggest for your City?


More about Jack Welch.

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