You would think the Council that plans and maintains this special place called Noosa would have a clear vision. A vision of the future it is building on our behalf. Is that a lot to ask?
Recently I attended a public meeting with Noosa Shire Councillors. The meeting sought feedback from the community in response to the Council’s proposed budget. The Shire budget is important, not only to ensure “ratepayers get the biggest bang for our buck”, but also to ensure that the Shire is on track to achieve a compelling and shared vision for a future Noosa.
At the meeting I asked, “does anyone know what the vision is for Noosa and what are the values that support the achievement of this vision”. I was initially met with silence from the Councillors and then a couple of vague attempts were made to articulate the vision and values. It was very clear that the vision and values were not at the forefront of Councillors minds and hence one could reasonably surmise that they did not drive the budget process.
When I came home, funnily enough, I realised that I did know the vision for our much larger neighbours – the Sunshine Coast Council;
“Australia’s most sustainable region: Healthy. Smart. Creative.”
This is probably because it is constantly referenced in the media by the Mayor and others. I went to the Sunshine Coast web site, and it was easy to find the vision statement, supported by a video of the Mayor and business leaders explaining each element. I went to the Noosa Shire Council Web site and did a similar search. I could find nothing except a short reference to a vision in a strategic document.
So, what does this say about Noosa Shire Council? If there is a vision and values which underpin decision making in the Shire, they are not widely communicated, nor referred to. In watching Council meeting debate and decision making, I have never once heard reference to the vision for Noosa or the values which should underpin any decision making.
No doubt some of our Councillors do know what their vision and values are for the Shire, but I have not seen any evidence that there is a compelling and lived vision pervading all decision making in the Council and is also known and owned by the community, including ratepayers, business and not for profit organisations.
Why should we all be concerned about this? When there is no shared and compelling vision for any organisation, the organisation lacks direction and usually suffers from indecision, especially in relation to the “big ideas” which take it forward. Decision making often appears random and isn’t aligned to a preferred future.
The future is left to chance and may lead to an outcome which destroys the things that people most value. Employees get disconnected from the organisation, lack direction, and feel much of their effort is wasted. This causes a decline in morale and people exit the organisation. The organisation finds it difficult to recruit new people. Money is wasted because expenditure is not aligned to achieving a set of cohesive objectives and there are no metrics to judge success in the journey to achieve the stated vision.
Is some of this sounding familiar?
Noosa Shire Council has a new CEO and, to date, our Mayor has shown no strategic leadership that I can discern. It seems an opportune time to address this glaring deficiency in the Council’s practice.
That’s assuming our divided Councillors can agree on what form this should take.
Without a shared and compelling vision for the future of Noosa, we may end up with a Noosa that no-one wants.