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Are You Communicating Your Goals?


February 10, 2017 by Bob Jean
Category: Governance , Council-Commission Advisor

Are You Communicating Your Goals?

With all the political divisions at the national level, it’s even more important than ever for those of us at the local government level to not only set goals for our communities, but also to be sure we effectively communicate our goals. What’s your community’s “Road Map” for a better future? And how do you cut through all the noise and clutter to communicate it to your constituents?

Determining Vision, Values, Strategies, and Goals

The start of the year is typically when city and county councils get together for their long-range strategic planning reviews and more immediate goal setting for the next one to two years. Do you have a concise vision statement, consisting of two to three short paragraphs, which describe where you see the community going? What are the core values that need to be respected and followed along the way? What strategies will you use to take your community from where you are now to where you are going? Finally, what goals will mark the steps you take in pursuit of your community vision?

Creating Your Road Map

Now, can you reduce your Vision, Values, Strategies, and Goals to a one-page Road Map, or a concise statement of municipal policy? A Road Map is a one-page statement of where your city or county is going. To get a sense of what this looks like, here is the Bothell Road Map I developed recently with the Bothell City Council, where I served as the interim city manager. Though I stole this structure from the City of SeaTac, it works equally well for different municipalities. 

To communicate with your constituents, your message must be clear and consistent in order to cut through all of the clutter and noise—the press, social media, 24-hour news channels, blogs, and other mediums—competing with or in opposition to your city or county. A Road Map can provide you with the structure to create a clear message. But that is just the start.

Communicating Your Road Map with the 10-5-1 Approach

To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, it’s all about message, messenger, and medium. Nothing undercuts confidence in government more than conflicting messages. Be clear about your message, pick the right messenger and venue to deliver the message, and then choose the appropriate medium (newsletter, annual report, state of the city/county, local access TV, website, social media, etc.).  Send your message 10 times via different mediums, with the goal of getting it to the community at least 5 times, so that they will “hear” and understand it at least once. That’s the 10-5-1 approach!

Demonstrating Leadership

If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there. The Road Map is one means of clearly communicating your council’s direction and building the community’s support and “followership” behind your “leadership.” Having clear goals and repeatedly communicating those goals are essential if you are to be an effective local government leader in today’s noisy, cluttered world.


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Bob Jean

Bob Jean writes for MRSC as a Council Commission Advisor.

Bob Jean retired in 2010 after 15 years as the City Manager for University Place, Washington. He has over 35 years of city and county management experience. He is a past Board Member for AWC. He received the ICMA national Award for Staff Development and Training. He currently serves as an advisor to cities and counties as a Range Rider for WCMA.

The views expressed in Advisor columns represent the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MRSC.

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