Have a Plan and Stick to It

By Frances Cox, Principal, The Fratelli Group

The Deputy Chief of Operations for the City of Baltimore summed up what we tell our clients all the time: Have a plan and stick to it.

That was Shonte Eldridge’s advice last week during a panel discussion at the “Women in Smart Cities Forum,” an excellent event hosted by Bloomberg Government and Verizon.

In discussing strategies for finding smart city solutions, Ms. Eldridge kept it simple, urging attendees to develop a strategic plan and stay disciplined in using it to guide daily decisions.

Ms. Eldridge explained that she receives calls from vendors all the time, offering their own brand of solution to help the city meet its various technology and infrastructure challenges. Fortunately, her mayor — the impressive Catherine Pugh who spoke earlier in the forum — has developed a five-pillar plan for Baltimore. When Ms. Eldridge gets those calls, she consults the plan, and if the solution doesn’t advance an objective, then it’s not the right one for Baltimore.

Determining the goals of a project and then laying out guiding principles — or strategic pillars as Baltimore has done — for reaching them is the first step we take with new clients. Organizations often (if not always) want to skip this step in the process and jump right into the tactics. But, as Ms. Eldridge illustrated last week—when you have a plan and stick to it, it’s easy to filter out the noise and pick tactics that will advance your pre-determined goals.

That doesn’t mean you won’t reassess the plan or adjust it from time to time, but it does give you a tool to make sure your entire team is working together — even when the top leader is not in the room.