When I was a child, my Mom took me on yearly trips to visit my grandparents. The trip from Phillipsburg to Hoxie, Kansas always felt like it took forever. There were endless twists and turns, and I never saw my Mom consult a map. I never knew how we got there exactly; I just knew that we did get safely to our destination. As I aged into my teenage years, I wondered how she knew where to go, which direction to turn, and more critically, how many snacks and books to pack to keep us entertained in the pre-cell phone age. It was a mystery of childhood that I learned later.
Once I became an adult and started traveling to college in Manhattan, KS, I realized how crucial it was to have a road map and proper preparation before heading out on a long trip. While hopping in a car and taking a spontaneous trip could be fun and interesting, planning a destination and knowing the route was more helpful for me. I traveled with a road map in my car, knowing there could be a detour, and I would have to find a new route, but the destination always remained the same. My choice of road was determined by my personality (back roads rather than interstate) and timing (how early did I have to go to class the next day).
It can be easy in this day of Google Maps, Waze, and other smart phone technology to just plug in a designation and let the phone tell you where to go. There is a security in letting technology, or “someone else” point you in the right direction. However, it’s a positive thing to have a backup plan – a road map in the car in case you run out of cell data, go into a limited coverage area, or (like me), just like to be prepared in case of emergency!
As an organization, OPA has a destination that is outlined by our mission statement: “To advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and to improve people’s lives in Ohio.” While this sets our goal, it does not tell us how to get there or what specific pathways are available to us. Our route choices should be guided by our vision and values – championing human rights and well-being for all, modeling diversity and inclusiveness, being role models and collaborating with others.
Ultimately, the specific twists and turns that we make from this moment today to get to our destination are outlined by OPA’s strategic plan. The strategic plan goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART goals), and will move us closer to our mission in Ohio. This year, the new OPA board of directors has been charged with revisiting the strategic plan, and re-examining our route. This process started during the OPA board retreat, continued with feedback from each board member and committee chair, and was continued at an intensive meeting on Saturday, January 27th at the OPA offices.
One of the challenges of such a diverse organization as OPA, is that we will not all agree with the road to take to get to the final mission statement destination. We may not even agree with how our values translate into specific SMART goals. Some members may be content to let the OPA leadership “drive the car” and trust in the process. Others might be more interested in route planning and identifying the best roads to take.
My hope is that no matter what level of engagement our members want or the differences in our opinions about how to arrive at our destination, the process will be transparent enough; so that, we can arrive as a cohesive and unified organization. The goal of the strategic planning process is to be forthright regarding how the three-to-five-year goals and process to achieve those was chosen. Then, creation of a continuous feedback loop can exist between OPA leadership and members to constantly adjust our route to maintain alliance with the strategic plan. While I know timing may be perceived differently to different members, I hope that we will move at an appropriate pace to be both thoughtful, but timely.
For the record, the distance between Phillipsburg and Hoxie is only 83 miles, but there are three different routes to get there. All roads are rural, all paved(ish), but also 55 mph – ensuring that it would take at least an hour and a half, and up to two hours to get there. Two hours as a child was an eternity – two hours today feels like nothing. I’m grateful to my Mom for studying the map, memorizing it ahead of time, and finding a way to make both the trip and the destination a pleasant one for all of us. It truly taught me that the time on the road can be as meaningful as the time at the final destination.