Vision and Objectives for the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor

“…vision and strategy are as much about creating meaning for people as they are about establishing direction.”  Andrew Smith

Comments made by a Regenerate Christchurch spokesperson, in the Stuff article accompanying the call for feedback on the Vision and Objectives for the post-quakes  Ōtākaro Avon River corridor*, included mention of the organisation “working at different levels simultaneously” on the Regeneration Area.

This devalues the envisioning phase of the strategic planning process. Work should not begin on the objectives, strategic and operational planning until the vision is crystallised and accepted. The sequence is the secret, as Andrew Smith points out in relation to his Accelerated Planning Technique.*

Comments on the Draft:

“The draft vision for the Ōtākaro Avon River Regeneration Area has been shaped by thousands of ideas from Christchurch people about how the area can be transformed into an attractive and exciting legacy for our community.”

No-the thousands of ideas are the raw material, not the shapers. Don’t confuse the clay with the potter.

“The vision and objectives have been informed by public feedback, a community needs survey, 19 workshops with a diverse range of groups, a community profile and more than 5000 ideas from adults and children….”

A lot of input to produce a weak vision and clumsy objectives!

“Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision
The river is part of us and we are part of the river. It connects us with each other, our communities and nature…”

The second sentence is tautologous and clumsy, which is merely irritating. But the first sentence reads like a poetical or mystical vision, not the kind of vision at all appropriate to lead off a vision statement of this sort.

A properly crafted vision describes the endpoint and outcomes of the collective journey or collaborative enterprise. It should contain the ingredients of the criteria for evaluating whether or not the journey or enterprise has been satisfactory completed.

Evan Smith’s article in today’s Press “Cleaner Avon River offers more options” * is not structured as a vision/objectives/strategy but it has key elements that could be incorporated in “Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision”.

These include an excellent visual and “a concept around recreational renaturalisation of the river, with a particular focus on Kerr’s Reach that allows for flat water sports and a river floodplain too” and criteria like greatly improved water quality and sustainability and parallel benefits in terms of flood management.

The benefits help to sell the concept, though it is quite clear that more work has to be done on hydrological and other ingredients of the concept.

Formatted rather annoyingly, the “vision” meanders on, as murky as the Avon River itself:

“….It is a living part of our city.
A place of history and culture
where people gather, play, and celebrate together.
A place of learning and discovery
where traditional knowledge, science and technology meet.
A place for ideas and innovation
where we create new ways of living and connecting.
Our vision is for the river to connect us together
with each other, with nature and with new possibilities.
Nōku te awa. The river is mine.
We all share in the future of this river.
Ōtākaro Avon River, together we thrive.”

More repetition and tautology: “Our vision is for the river to connect us together with each other…”. Then a switch from the collective to the individual: “Nōku te awa. The river is mine’, but in the next breath “We all share in the future of this river.”

A vision is supposed to lift our sights, focus our attention and fortify our aspirations. I am afraid that what we are offered instead is a confusing mishmash which does none of these things.

*Blinks
https://engage.regeneratechristchurch.nz/26899/documents/55615
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/93221595/reimagining-the-avon-river-for-recreation-and-nature  Evan Smith  2/6/17
http://www.lukey.co.nz/services/strategicplanning.html

Lyall Lukey  3 June 2017
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/

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