The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

David Knepper

February 23, 2014

David Knepper | As winter dreaming slips away, now is time for action

JOHNSTOWN — “Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”

–  Paul Theroux, American writer   


Indisputably, Old Man Winter and his sidekick, Jack Frost, collaborated this winter to create havoc throughout our region and the nation with record-breaking cold temperatures and snow accumulations.

Whatever got their rancor up is anyone’s guess. Could it be that there was some secretive pact with Punxsutawney Phil in offering their support to defend this furry creature’s prognostication of six more weeks of winter.

You didn’t need Phil to warn us about the impending winter weather that lay ahead this year. According to Wikipedia, the Old Farmer’s Almanac has been predicting the weather using highly secretive methods used to make its predictions, only stating publicly that it is a “top secret  mathematical  and astronomical formula that relies on sunspot activity, tidal actions, planetary positions  and many other factors.” 

Rather impressive – wouldn’t you agree?

“This winter is shaping up to be a rough one,” said its editor, Janice Stillman.

“Sweaters and snow shovels should be unpacked early and kept close by throughout the season …”

It’s almost time to flip the calendar to March. Did you notice that the days are getting longer? Hopefully, the polar vortex will make its way to the Arctic where it belongs; and that the first robins – a sure sign of spring – will soon return to the neighborhood.

What should we do before we awaken from our winter dreams? Move forward and think positive.

Our hibernation will soon be at an end. Turn your dreams into reality through a plan of action from which you will neither abandon nor retreat. It’s still not too late to begin this process.

Many of our community leaders should already be putting the finishing touches on a plan of action that is their roadmap for renewal, leading to prosperity and economic revitalization. Is there a plan now in place? Perhaps only in some fragmented way and certainly not in one’s imagination.

Or worse yet, on a day-to-day basis where there is neither substance nor structure to effectively guide the organization forward.

Alright then, clean off that “snow” from those “headlights” so you and your management team can see more clearly where you want your organization to be at the end of 2014.

Building an annual plan – synonymous to a long-range plan – over the winter months is an important catalyst in reaching the goals that you have established for this year.   One of the biggest mistakes in any organization, whether in the private or public sector, is to associate the annual budget with an annual plan.

Fundamentally, the annual plan is a comprehensive view of your objectives, goals and activity plans in order to show your team where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. It gets everyone on the same page and excites them about the year to come.

And, at the same time, the annual plan, including the budget document, should be displayed publicly on the organization’s website.

Remember that we are discussing two entirely different presentations. Normally, the annual budget is a requirement by statute, especially if the organization is a public entity, while the annual plan is the guidebook or game plan to achieve success.

It’s made that much easier if there is already a plan in place to begin a new chapter.

Regardless of the size of your organization, an annual plan is a powerful tool for measuring success and accomplishments (as well as failures) from the previous year to the next. It’s that time again to start planning for this new year. Winter dreams can now become actualized into reality in early spring when the world feels like it’s starting over. Put away those snow shovels and the liniment for another year – spring is nearly upon us.

Let’s make it happen.

“But we have always done it this way,” sadly, is the usual, but wrong, retort.

David A. Knepper is currently the executive director of the Forest Hills Regional Alliance. He holds a doctorate in educational administration from Penn State. His column appears monthly in the Sunday edition.

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