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The Planning Commission at Work

Bringing the Plan to Life

Read an excerpt from this article below. You can download the full article by using the link at the end of the excerpt.

The excitement that accompanies the adoption of a comprehensive plan is very real. Indeed, it is not uncommon for a planning commission to celebrate once the plan has been officially adopted. After all, a quality comprehensive plan does not materialize overnight. A solid plan is the by-product of study, analysis, and reflection. Accordingly, the decision to adopt a comprehensive plan generates a feeling of closure on the part of the planning commission as well as the community.

The adoption of a comprehensive plan, however, should not be viewed as an act of closure. Instead, the decision to adopt should be viewed as the initial step in the plan implementation process.

It is essential to remember that a comprehensive plan will not effectuate change if it is afforded trophy status and placed on the proverbial office shelf. If a plan is going to make a difference in the life of a community it must be used and followed.

The balance of this column will highlight an eight step process a planning commission can use to bring the comprehensive plan to life.

Step One: Involve the Public -– and the Governing Body. Management experts tell us that organizational change is less traumatic if the people affected by the change are involved in planning the change. Because planning involves change, it is crucial that the public be included not just in developing the plan's goals and objectives, but in focusing on how they will be implemented. Members of the public must be challenged to see the connection between the "dreaming" phase of the planning process and the "doing" phase of plan implementation.

As I've stressed in past columns, it is also critically important for the planning commission to keep the governing body informed and involved. A plan simply cannot be implemented without the governing body's continued strong support.

Step Two: Convey a Message. Our plans must convey a message the public will connect with. Products sell because people associate value with the purchase. This marketing truism also applies to community planning. To be successful, comprehensive plans must convey, in a clear and direct manner, how the future will be different if they are followed.

End of excerpt

... article then covers six more steps:
Step Three: Commitment to Outcomes
Step Four: Develop an Implementation Schedule
Step Five: Assign Implementation Responsibilities
Step Six: Establish a Timeline
Step Seven: Link the Plan with the Budget
Step Eight: Document the Difference

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