Ten at the Top's strategic plan is much like a road trip

March 22, 2018.

By Sue G. Schneider, Chair, Ten at the Top

In my first job after I graduated college, I was in the midst of a discussion with my supervisor when I realized that our meeting was actually a formal assessment of my first year on the job.

It was to be my first performance review.

Once I realized this, the tone and tenor of the conversation changed, as did my attention level. Following the review, I noted an interesting phrase in the comments he provided me, and it’s one that has stuck with me throughout my entire career: bias for action.

Anyone who has worked closely with me since those early days knows that’s a fair description of me. I like to understand the goal of the large task and break it down to a list of smaller actions and then check them off, driving until I reach the destination.

That day, however, I came to the conclusion that my supervisor didn’t consider my bias for action to be a positive trait. However, despite our difference of opinion on whether this way of working and managing was a strength or a weakness, I did progress to other opportunities appropriate for my strengths, and this particular boss remained an influence in my career for many years to come. 

I’ve learned that a bias for action can be especially effective if you have a strategic focus. Putting energy into the small steps that lead to big results. Being unstoppable. 

I look at it this way: my bias for action helps organize a project like a road trip. This way, I can transform a long drive into a series of more manageable stretches. I look at strategic tactics and imperatives as the map that ultimately helps me achieve my goals—reaching that destination I’m driving towards, the place where I’m expecting to find success.

Let’s look at Ten at the Top’s strategic focus, which was developed by leaders across the Upstate. It’s pretty ambitious:

  1. Human Potential: Creating opportunities for all Upstate residents to succeed.
  2. Economic and Entrepreneurial Vitality: Growing the competitiveness of the Upstate in the global economy.
  3. Sustainable Growth: Encouraging future growth in appropriate locations by means that enhance livability in the Upstate.
  4. Natural Beauty and Resources: Serving as reliable stewards of our natural environment and resources.
  5. Community Vibrancy: Embracing the importance and heritage of the Upstate’s urban areas and small towns.

How can you help Ten at the Top achieve these goals? For one, it takes everyone reading this to make a small but powerful commitment: We need your help making one step forward to move our communities closer to shared success. This first step means providing your input, your ideas, your experiences, your stories, and—more than anything—your engagement, an interest in taking this journey with us. That step and the ones that follow will ensure a bright future for the Upstate. One foot in front of the other.

Think about how you would break up that large and ambitious set of goals we’ve set for Ten at the Top. What is the first step that you can act upon to help us reach success?

While we enjoy every day all that the Upstate has going for it, we still have much to get done. We’ve got human potential, but we need more opportunities. We’ve got economic vitality, but need to be more competitive. We’re seeing sustainable growth, but we need to enhance livability in more areas. We’ve got natural beauty and resources, but we need to do more to protect and preserve them. We’ve got vibrant communities, but we need to find new ways to embrace our shared heritage as a region.

Those are our challenges. And it’s going to take all of us having a bias for action to overcome them.

Let’s take these first steps together. Ten at the Top is a great organization that is supported by great people who are ready to move and find success to achieve these goals. But achieving these goals is more than finding success and reaching our destination: We’re going to be living in the best place in the world—to work, play and raise a family.

But, of course, I’m biased.

Thank you for your support, and your action.



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