Thursday, December 23, 2010

Developing Purpose and Vision

Approximately six years ago I took a training course for Planning Directors which was led by Paul Zucker, a planning consultant out of California. One of his visioning processes asks several questions which I don't think I've fully fleshed out. I thought that today I would finally write out some of my honest answers to these and see where it leads me.

What mission in life absolutely obsesses you?

The constant struggle to provide order out of chaos. Classification, cataloging and bringing defined space to an entropic world.

What is your dream about your work?

I dream about working with a team of uniquely innovative designers, planners and policy makers which would teach me techniques, technology and provide me with challenges to provide housing, recreation and public space that people would recognize and enjoy for generations.

About what do you have a burning passion?

I have a burning passion to learn more about architecture and design and the integration of the white space between buildings. Ever since Environmental Design classes at Texas A&M University where we attempted to examine why people behave in certain built environments, it's been a passion of mine to seek out those places which allow people to natrually inhabit without feeling claustrophobic or false. I would love produce a social demographic study of these spaces and produce a metric indicator showing why its economically, socially and environmentally sustainable to create these places.

What work do you find absorbing, involving, enthralling?

I enjoy teaching others about planning and why having a holistic interdisiplinary viewpoint to the built environment can lead to exciting and nuanced experiences for people.

What is your personal agenda? What do you want to prove?

Diversity is not an enemy. Caring about the welfare of people, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties is important (via JFK) and that everyone has a right to inhabit places which are safe, comfortable and sustainable.

How would you describe the ultimate objective for your organization?

To provide service equitably among the population of the City.

If you overhear a conversation about your team one year/two years/three years down the road, what do you want people to be saying about us?

They have moved the community from a reactive suburb to a proactive redevelopment community. They have engaged the local population, involved challenging ideas and produced high, but achievable expectations. They work compassionately, throroughly, and with great humor and aplomb.

What would it be like around here if you were really excited about coming to work every day?

I would have the technology and the training for me to use it. I wouldn't have to be always making the "workaround" acheive my goals. Projects would be assigned with enough resources and support to involve dedicated individuals from multiple departments.

If you could create the ultimate work environment, how would you describe it?

It would look something like this:

What would we be doing that would have you excited about being a part of it?

We would be conducting the initial data gathering for a comprehensive city plan. Not a new land use plan, but a managed growth and redevelopment plan. The new economic paradigm doesn't foresee growth in unplanned sprawl events anymore. Infill and redevelopment which are tied to the market demand on an area are the driving forces. The plan would  identify (through public involvement and city stakeholder involvement) a set of indicators which could be used to measure whether or not the plan and the subsequent implementation policies derived from the plan are working. Therefore, very specific points can be shown that the policies implemented are achieving the success desired.

What does your ideal organization look like?

Multi-talented, diverse and team oriented, rather than top-down management. Director - first of equals and maintains vision, direction and final veto. City Council, Planning and Zoning Commission are involved specifically as facilitators of the process in order to promote buy-in and to help demonstrate the necessity of unified vision, values and policies needed to provide implementation direction.