A Bridge to … Somewhere

By Casey Jones, CAPP

Our eldest son just finished his sophomore year in high school and we’re having a lot of discussions these days about his college plans and what he has to do now to put himself in the best possible spot when application time comes. Should he take more advance placement classes or focus on concurrently enrolling in college courses? It’s complicated further because like most kids his age, he’s not sure exactly what degree program he’ll ultimately pursue. So he has to make choices now for an uncertain future but with a big-picture goal in mind. My son is learning how to bridge the actions he takes today with his long-term goals.

In our industry, bridging takes many forms and we must consciously undertake bridging activities to achieve our goals and meet the needs of those we serve. What, specifically, are our bridging activities? Here’s a possible list:

  • Bridging the daily actions of our frontline staff and broad strategic goals. We can do this by developing key performance metrics every member of the team can impact daily and include them in job goals and performance evaluations.
  • Bridging today’s technology decisions and our future technology needs. This is challenging but there are a few key technologies that are likely to be central to our future operations. License plate recognition (LPR) systems come to mind; investing in LPR now can pave the path for the future.
  • Bridging customer expectations and our programs and services. The very best way to do this is by creating constant, sincere and two-way communication with our customers—both internal and external. The more we understand their needs and the more they understand our limitations and abilities, the more likely it is that expectations and services will align.
  • Bridging vision and actions. It’s great to have a big dream or an exciting vision for the future but it may be meaningless unless we figure out what actions to take to get there. The first step in bridging vision and actions is to acknowledge that without a plan, the dream is almost certain to never become a reality. Then, we must define short-term objectives aimed at the bigger vision, assign responsibility, and monitor progress making course corrections as needed.

Bridging takes conscious effort but is critical to achieving big picture goals. And just like my son, we all have to accept that the future is unknown but that the more proactive we are, the more likely it is we’ll make good decisions today that will matter tomorrow.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president, municipal services, with SP+.

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