Sound Strategy: End of year reflections

Sound Strategy: End of year reflections

December 29th, 2022

The end of the year is a great time to look back, learn, and plan ahead. In doing so, we understand that it’s only by placing the future in context that we can arrive at the destination we set out for at the beginning.

In other words, you can’t see the picture if you’re within the frame.

Along that journey, we so often find that it’s easier, as we develop plans and allocate resources, to develop a consensus around the “what” as opposed to the “why”. The “why” is what so often involves ideology as opposed to solutions.

If, as is the case for so much of our nation now, we’re unable to move beyond the ideology of “why” we won’t sequentially be able to get to the “what.”

For example, across our region we continue to work on things like affordable housing – it’s easier, in other words, to tackle the “what” of housing ideas (zoning, development, and so forth) than it is the “why” of housing ideas.

For practitioners on the ground, the “what” is doable only if we can figure out a way to leave the “why” at a distance.

That said, the strongest contexts for a 2023 that keeps positive momentum for our region lie in three straightforward ideas as a basis for priorities in the New Year:  

  1. Continue to invest in and support the region’s visitor economy. In a potentially recessionary summer environment, our collective ability to support our key economic driver will be decisive in our ability to recover rapidly.

    Travel economies typically see the effects of a recession a year later (people book in advance) and emerge about a year later (people don’t book in advance).

    The more we’re prepared to weather that notion by focusing on the visitor experience this year, the more we’ll be prepared for any recessionary weather in years to come.

    Conversely, if we take our eye off the ball in a recession, the cure could be worse than we thought.

  2. Localize successes and regionalize challenges. Let’s make sure our towns and neighborhoods get the credit when things go right, and let’s work regionally to address the challenges that are too big for any town or neighborhood to fix.

    Being specific in our celebrations and deliberate in our regional relationships is the lever that will move our region forward. Lincoln perhaps said it best: “Divided, we fall”.

    The good news is that we can learn from a lot of other similar areas here. We don’t have to fail through trial and error, as learning from the mistakes of others is always a wise thing. 

  3. As the visitor economy continues to generate wealth for the communities in which we live, we are reminded of the classical “phyrrian” challenge – Hannibal, it was said, knew how to gain a victory but not how to use one (hence the phrase based on a battle Hannibal fought).

    Let that not be true of us in how we allocate the minerals of the tourism engine–let’s make sure our spending priorities regionally are closely linked to the iron triangle of quality of life: Healthcare, housing, and education.

    In terms of economic returns to taxpayers, dollars spent in those critical areas tend to get a better return than some other projects, particularly over the long term.

Most importantly, though, as the year ends, gratitude is perhaps the best gift of all. From the entire team at WOBX, we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and the best of sound blessings in the coming year.

“Sound Strategy”, a weekly commentary from our publisher Clark Twiddy, features issues, ideas and information focused on our mission statement of “Covering the Business News of the Greater Outer Banks”.

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