During last week’s retreat for Tupelo City Council and Mayor Jason Shelton, Phil Hardwick, project manager at Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government, led the group’s efforts to set goals for the next four years and will continue the process on Sept. 7.
Hardwick, who frequently assists groups and organizations with goal-setting activities, answered questions from Daily Journal reporter Robbie Ward.
Q: What value do goal setting retreats bring to elected officials?
A: In my experience, I’ve seen a major difference in the communities that set goals versus those that do not. The ones with goals tend to have more positive and desired outcomes.
Q: After Tupelo elected officials set goals, what’s the critical next step necessary to achieve them?
A: The next step is accountability and responsibility and then regular followup. Hopefully, I’ll meet with this group once a year to do followup.
Q. You can tell a lot about a place based on challenges and goals. From the goal-setting retreat here, what are your thoughts on the community?
A: What I look for in communities is how do they solve their problems.
It’s been very interesting to watch Tupelo deal with problems in the last 10 years. The most obvious one lately has been the school situation.
I look at how communities solve their problems. I see how Tupelo identified an increase in rental property and set up a process to address it.
They addressed it with hearings and updated the ordinance related to it. I’ve seen a lot of other cities through the same issues and they just got worse. I look at how a community deals with its problems. That’s one of the things that sets apart successful communities from others. Successful communities identify their problems and address them right away.