Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016 - (Page 11)
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Strategic Planning and
By Charles Hilton,
The first year has passed since I was honored to be elected as your President in Seattle, Washington.
Since then, my daughter has gotten married, I have spoken at the National Press Club in DC at the 40th
anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and have traveled to Kobe, Japan to speak at the 10th Annual
International Symposium on Technology in Drinking Water. I have traveled 90,000+ miles with Delta. But most
importantly, I have spent a lot of time visiting with you, undoubtedly the finest people in the world. I have now
started my second (and final) term as your President and I am deeply indebted and grateful to each of you for
the opportunity to serve as your President.
As I think back over a long career in this business, I think of the challenges we have faced. When I started
out on my first assignment in a waste treatment plant, I was construction manager, operations specialist,
laboratory technician and maintenance man. It seemed there were not enough hours in the day to get
everything done. The work was seven days a week with little relief help and some days there wasn't enough
time to even grab a bite for lunch.
I recall a conversation I had with my boss who was critical of me because I had not gotten something done
on time. I told him I was working seven days a week and whine, whine, whine; I'm sure you've been there.
His immediate reply was, "The number of hours you spend here is immaterial, what matters is what you
accomplish." He could have hit me in the head with a baseball bat and not hurt my feelings any more than he
did. However, I went home and thought about what he said - I still recall those words 40+ years later. Although
I thought I was doing a great job, I had failed to realize one aspect of what I was assigned to do. I was to plan
not only my day, but my week, my month, my year, and the years ahead. It was a life-changing event.
As I hopefully continued to mature with my work skills, I became more and more aware of the need for
not just planning, but strategic planning if we are to meet the needs of the utility now and in the future. It must
have had some effect because now, I realize many times in my office, that I do not know what the crews are
doing. I have managers that assign the mundane tasks that have to be done
daily. Although I am quickly told when a problem develops, I realize I don't
need to know every little detail about every little job going on. I realized I have
to trust my employees to do their job and equally, they must perform at a level
that they have been told, and then they know they are trusted when they both
meet and exceed those expectations.
So, if I don't handle the day-to-day, I must be twiddling my thumbs waiting
for something to do?! Nothing could be further from the truth. My job now is
planning to meet the needs a year from now, five years from now, and even
twenty five years from now. That is far more difficult to do than repairing the
leak on the six-inch water line. It entails looking at growth rate, expansion
possibilities, replacing aging lines and equipment and then estimating cost and
insuring the budget not only today but 10 years from now will be met. It has
become a whole lot more difficult.
The other aspect in planning deals with events that we cannot control
- when disaster strikes. How do you plan for an event that may or may not
ever occur? By spending a lot of time looking at our past history on climate - hurricanes, tornadoes, snow/ice,
drought, etc. - and looking for other events that are relatively new to us - cyber-attacks and terrorism - and
others unheard of only a short time ago.
In today's complex society, we can no longer afford to operate "by the seat of our pants." We have to plan
for those needs that seem only visionary at the moment, or as the old saying from Ben Franklin goes, "If you
fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" ●
AS I HOPEFULLY
CONTINUED TO MATURE WITH
MY WORK SKILLS, I BECAME
MORE AND MORE AWARE OF
THE NEED FOR STRATEGIC
PLANNING IF WE ARE TO MEET
THE NEEDS OF THE UTILITY
NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016
Strategic Planning for Water Utilities
Planning for Drought
A Rally to Remember
The 17th Annual Great American Water Taste Test
USDA Rural Development Has Loans
Rural Water Association of Utah Launches Successful Training Program
Vermont Rural Water Association Continues Training; Plans More for 2016
From the President
Finance: Investing Without Borders
Emergency Management: Decontamination Strategy for the Water Sector
A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider: Dell R. Harris, Kentucky Rural Water Association
Case Study: Bubble Diffusers
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
From The CEO
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016