In creating a strategic plan, many businesses and agencies go outside of the company to find solutions for the future. They bring in consultants, professional planners, people with a history of creating strategic plans, but without a real understanding of the organization or the industry. But that is not the only option. When it comes to outlining a vision for the future, sometimes the best way to do it is to tap the wealth of knowledge that you have under your own roof.
The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have adopted a strategic plan, outlining goals and steps that the PUD will take in the coming years to improve in several areas . It’s a vision of how the PUD can evolve in both the long-term and the short-term. It’s a milestone moment for the PUD, but what makes me the most proud is that it was created by our employees.
Over the past five months employees have been working together to outline a five year plan for the PUD’s future. Our relationship with our customers, responsible management of finances, attracting and retaining quality employees, safety and reliability, improved performance and stewardship were all discussed. The meetings involved indentifying both short-term and long-term goals and planning the steps needed to achieve those goals.
This is not one person’s idea of how to move forward. This was an examination of this PUD, taking into consideration all that it has to offer, and issues affecting our business. Who can better identify the strengths and weaknesses of an organization then the people who walk in the doors everyday to work? Who has a better relationship with the customers and hears firsthand what they would like to see? The people who interact with them every day. Who stands to benefit from the creation of a positive environment with a clearly laid path ahead? Obviously, our customers will see the positive returns, but as the organization improves so too does the sense of pride and ownership in the people that work here. I believe a carefully considered strategic plan provides tremendous value.
Nearly a third of the PUD staff, from field crews to customer service personnel was involved in the creation of this document. That’s a significant achievement. I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I was to see the people who work at your PUD sink their teeth into this project and pour their hearts and minds into its creation. Improved internal and external communications, responsible budgeting, employee development and better asset management; these were just a few of the areas that PUD employees identified as high priority targets that will improve the PUD, both for its customers and its employees.
The July 21st action by the PUD Board of Commissioners is not the final step for this vision. To improve weaknesses and build upon strengths, this document must become a living thing, evolving with changing times and being reviewed to ensure that goals are being met. With that in mind, PUD staff will review the plan each quarter, identifying important initiatives that need immediate attention and adding new projects as needs change.
Earlier this year, your PUD laid out its mission statement in 13 simple yet powerful words: “Serve our community with high value utility services at the lowest practical cost.” We now have a plan in place to accomplish this mission. It was created by the people who are charged with making it successful, adding a level of principal and ownership to this milestone moment, a moment that every employee and customer of the Grays Harbor PUD can be proud of.
Dave Ward is the general manager of the Grays Harbor Public Utility District.