“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better” – Studs Terkel
Lada the Leader was clear-eyed. His father, the chief was dead. At one end of the palace courtyard, townsfolk wailed. Women rolled on the floor. Men slapped their heads in grief. The noise was deafening. At the other end, his late father’s advisors sat in a huddle planning the funeral. From the palace kitchen wafted tantalizing aroma of akara osu to be partnered with fresh eko on banana leaves. People who mourn get hungry. Walking past the palace gates, Lada paused.
Outside the palace walls, Kokotown lurched along; a dot of a village along the expressway. Few shops opened for business because only a few of the townsfolk could afford their wares. Like the rest of the country, the town was experiencing a recession. Teachers and local government workers had not been paid. No businesses established in the town. It mattered only as a pit-stop on the way somewhere else. The only industry that thrived was farming but it was left to old men. And the coffers were empty.
“Omo ol’oku! How are we going to bury our chief, nau?” one of this father’s right-hand men hailed Lada.
“We need 10 heads of cattle for the funeral!” another added.
Lada walked away from them and into his rooms. He was more concerned about moving Kokotown forward. But, where to start? He decided to start at the right place, with a vision; a picture of what he’d like Kokotown to be. He couldn’t improve the town without having a plan. He’d learnt enough from his father’s reign to know that without a vision, stagnation prevailed. If he didn’t lay out a vision soon, things would get worse. So, he researched how towns like his climb out of recession. He spoke to the chiefs of prosperous towns. And surveyed what was still working in Kokotown. Then he sat down and wrote goals using the SMART strategy:
- Specific: He projected 10 years into the future. He understood that there’s no instant success. Seeds must be planted, seedlings nurtured, plants pruned, and weeds repelled to ensure a bumper harvest. For the first year, he laid out the foundational projects or big rocks such as education and a new council of chiefs.
- Measurable: Lada made his vision meaningful and motivating. He placed projects that would give him quick wins so that his people would be motivated to push forward.
- Achievable: Lada wanted Kokotown to be as bright and bustling as New York but knew it wasn’t possible so he settled for Abuja. He’d build his town till it was prosperous and able to attract the best businesses. He wrote short term and long-term goals with each step marking an achievement.
- Relevant: Every goal Lada the leader made was results-based and realistic. Kokotown’s economy could only grow about 2% each year if dependent only on agriculture so Lada did not project a 5% growth.
- Time-bound: Lada ensured he set timelines for all his goals and plans. He avoided starting and never finishing.
- Evaluated and Reviewed: All the goals were open to evaluation so that Lada could improve his results based on feedback received.
When he’d finished writing out his goals, Lada the Leader was ready to meet with his people.