Of City Officials
More Work To Do
BY LAUREN HENRY
Creating the Town of Greeneville's first-ever mission statement proved mission impossible for a one-day strategic planning session Wednesday.
However, the elements and ideas for the mission statement are there, which is the closest the town has ever come to a single statement indicating the local government's role.
"We at least have thoughts on paper," City Administrator Todd Smith said.
The first matter of business at the strategic planning session, held all day Wednesday at the Clyde Austin 4-H Center Lodge, was to create a preliminary mission statement.
The brainstorming session was not meant to create the final version but to flesh out an idea of key concepts to include, and be the fledgling steps in the town's first-ever attempt at a town mission statement.
A TOUGH TASK
"It's not easy," said facilitator Millie Callaway, a consultant for training and development with the TVA.
"Mission statements should be memorable and inspiring. They should motivate. they express purpose in a way that is convincing and easy to grasp."
The town's mission is to be exceptional, Greeneville's leaders indicated Wednesday in their discussion.
To create the statement, the officials participated in guided brainstorming, beginning with the question of purpose: "What are the needs that exist to address?"
Next they sought to communicate the town government's business: "What are we doing to address these needs?"
Finally, values: "What principles or beliefs guide our work?"
Their answers culminated in the beginnings of a mission statement:
"The mission of the Town of Greeneville is to provide services to make Greeneville the best community in which to live and grow by listening and being responsive to citizens through efficient and effective customer service, communication and results while valuing, respecting and serving all members of the community."
The officials themselves were a bit winded by the attempt.
To City Administrator Todd Smith, the mission statement should be something one can memorize and go back to in every situation as a way to make sure each decision is on track with the mission of the town.
This idea spurred a chorus of agreement and a resulting lengthy discussion into the minute phrasing and word choice.
"What is essential?" Mayor Daniels asked, referring to the "essential services" mentioned in the statement. "The average Joe needs to know where you are coming from."
Town public relations specialist Amy Rose agreed, "People are going to ask what 'essential' is."
After a few more attempts at a more manageable statement, the resulting statement nixed the word "essential" and much of the length of the first version.
The modified, but still preliminary, statement read:
"The mission of Town of Greeneville is to provide efficient and effective services while responding to the needs of its citizens."
To which Mayor Daniels asked: "What kinds of needs?"
With the discussion drifting into minutia, facilitator Callaway attempted to redirect discussion.
The result was that the word "needs" was dropped and the next draft of the statement was:
"The mission of the Town of Greeneville is to provide efficient and effective services to the citizens of the community."
Callaway furiously scribbled to keep up with each new phrasing on giant post-it-notes that by then decorated the expansive windows of the facility and slowly obstructed the view of the mountains.
She put down her pen and attempted to "facilitate without making decisions."
"My job is to guide you, and I understand and respect where you are coming from, but I think this might be too generic," she said.
The mission statement is "too broad," she said. "It gets away from the values."
The balancing act between conveying a clear target but in the clearest language and shortest phrasing possible seemed too much for the one-day workshop.
TALK, THEN LUNCH
Over lunch, discussion continued.
"My idea, the mission statement has to be something you say in one line because beyond that you lose them," said Jann Mirkov, executive director of Main Street: Greeneville.
"But if we start with this and the vision becomes 'How do you apply this in your specific department?', then that stuff is going to be different, but the end result will be the same: effective and efficient services."
The town is still without a finalized mission statement, but is far closer than it has ever been.
Administrator Smith said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen plans to take the initial lengthy statement and the other discussion and present ideas for more consideration.
Those in attendance who were involved in this part of the meeting were, in addition to the facilitator: Mayor Daniels; Aldermen Darrell Bryan, Buddy Hawk, Keith Paxton and Sarah Webster; City Administrator Smith; Glenda Blazer, director of the Roby Fitzgerald Adult Center; Jann Mirkov, executive director of Main Street: Greeneville; town Public Relations Specialist Rose; town Recorder Carol Susong; Fire Chief Mark Foulks; Parks & Recreation Director Butch Patterson; Police Chief Terry Cannon; and town Engineer Brad Peters