Should Jamaica Abandon Its Vision?

As a Jamaican employee, you are worried about the future of our nation. Perhaps it appears as if we are stumbling along, barely keeping our heads above water.

At the same time, you are aware of the power of a corporate vision. You wonder, “Why doesn’t someone create a vision for the 4.8 million people living here and abroad?”

The good news? We already have Vision 2030 Jamaica. But why isn’t it making a difference in your day-to-day existence?

There are two aspects of everyday life Jamaicans want to change the most. Over the past decade, neither crime nor our economy seems to have made visible progress. Instead, we envy the hyper-growth of Trinidad (2000-5), Guyana (2023-4), and the developed country status of the Bahamas.

Despite that, our main desire is for the low crime rates of Barbados and Cayman. Yet, it used to be different. Today, we just want to differentiate ourselves from Haiti, even as elders remind us of times when we led all these countries.

If we were once the regional leaders, can’t we reclaim that position? Although a direct comparison wouldn’t be fair, there might still be business best practices we could implement as a nation.

A Joined Up, Far-Away Future

A visionary future is one which engages stakeholders from creation to implementation. In for-profits, members of the board, management and customers groups are involved.

Shouldn’t our country do the same?

Here, there’s more good news. The process used to create Vision 2030 Jamaica between 2003-9 is a world-class model of national engagement. In fact, I share the case study with overseas and online audiences.

Perhaps you recognise the statement: “The place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.” In times past, government leaders repeated it regularly.

But now…not so much. It was hardly mentioned in the recent Budget Debate, but we need its power more urgently than ever. Why?

With six or so years remaining until we cross the finish line in 2030, we can’t afford to waste a single moment in mid-race. Remember when a stadium screen caused Shaunae Miller-Uibo to stumble and lose a 400m gold medal? We are likely to face defeat unless we focus on the following four elements.

A Divisive Election – You and I abhor the bitter political combat underway in the USA. It blocks even common-sense cooperation. But within months, our political parties will also be trying to win the next election by emphasising their differences.

While this is normal in a democracy, divisive internal competition undermines any vision. As such, our citizens need to make an extraordinary demand to keep our nation’s “board-members” from falling into American-style partisanship.

Continuous Inspiration – Your ability to recite our National Pledge and Anthem began in childhood. Let’s elevate the words of Vision 2030 Jamaica to that level of importance. From Dr Wesley Hughes’ Forward:

“Today, our children, from the tiny boy in Aboukir, St. Ann, to the teenage girl in Cave, Westmoreland, have access to technologies that were once considered science fiction. They seek opportunities to realise their full potential. This Plan (vision) is to ensure that, as a society, we do not fail them. “

Updated Business-like Measures – How can we publicly track progress made between 2009-2023? Do we deserve an A-? Or a D+? Also, are the original targets far beyond reach?

How about fresh measures of success which tell us if Jamaica is indeed becoming “the place of choice”? For example, let’s report the changing length of lines outside the US and Canadian Embassies for those seeking their escape to permanent residency.

Wheeling and Coming Again – Companies have no problem resetting their strategies when the old ones fail.

We can do the same for Vision 2030 Jamaica. This is the beauty of long-term strategic planning.

An honest read of the original 2009 document reveals that certain assumptions about the government’s capacity to lead the effort were unquestioned. Now, after over 14 years of effort, we see improvements to be made.

In summary, while we once led the world in long-term national planning, we aren’t doing the same in the challenging realm of national strategy and execution.

Even as the clock ticks down to 2030, things are likely to become more awkward. Why? The human tendency is to avoid such issues entirely, hoping they go away.

It’s still a possibility. But if we don’t confront the gaps in our initial attempt to create a joined-up, faraway vision, our citizens may never believe in a national vision again. That’s an excruciating, high price we need not pay.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To search his prior columns on productivity, strategy, engagement and business processes, send email to

Reversing Neglect: Vale Royal and Vision 2030 Jamaica

Your company has proclaimed a vision for the future. You have done a good job, pleasing a range of stakeholders. But how do you maintain momentum beyond the initial launch so that tangible results are achieved?

It is said that Jamaica is a nation of samples. We are fantastic at startup innovation, able to conjure original prototypes which are world class by any measure.

Yet, the above statement is made to underscore the absence of a culture of implementation and maintenance. As some say, one hires a Jamaican to come up with an innovative idea, a Trinidadian to design the launch party, and a Bajan to manage the routine, daily activities.

Case in point: Vale Royal. Recently, an internet meme showed the results of an anonymous visit to the classic 1694 property. The Jamaican coat of arms did little to hide the tumble-down wreckage of the former official residence of past Prime Ministers.

The universal reaction? Abject horror. This was not our country’s finest moment. Obviously, some piece of government machinery failed to work, producing an eyesore. The only saving grace? The fact that the embarrassment is a far distance from the gate on Montrose Road.

What can we learn from this mistake about aspirations such as Vision 2030 Jamaica, and apply them to your company’s vision statement?

  1. Visions Are Extremely Hard to Maintain

Compared to physical objects, your statements about the future are only made using bits and pieces of imagination. While this imaginary picture is usually translated into the written word, the captures on paper or digital formats are not very important.

Instead, a vision of the future comes to life in the hearts and minds of willing listeners. They participate by forging their own future of some faraway, but desirable destination. In their mind’s eye, something they want to realise inspires them and provokes strong emotions.

However, it’s much easier to conjure up a physical sample of a product. By contrast, the task of speaking from the future to an audience is terribly hard. Perhaps this is why those who do it well are honoured: Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Madela.

As such, keeping a vision alive is more difficult than maintaining a building. Today, both Vale Royal and Vision 2030 Jamaica need to be rehabilitated. Neither is beyond the limits of recovery, although the methods would be different.

But take a moment to draw this closer to home. Are stakeholders in your company inspired by your vision statement? Has its impact decayed over time? Can you bring it back to life?

  1. Visions Aren’t Accomplished by the Ordinary

Perhaps there is a shared shortcoming by those who were responsible for setting up the management of both Vale Royal and Vision 2030 Jamaica. The invisible assumption? That someone in a routine job would instantly produce visionary, game-changing results just because they were expected to.

If you think this is only a government problem, think again. In your company, there are people who specialise in keeping things running. Author Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) would say they keep “static quality” intact. They are important, but ordinary.

As such, you don’t ask such persons to instigate a change. For this task, you need specialists in “dynamic quality” who specialise in making a difference.

The point Pirsig makes is that both roles are needed, but their jobs must be carefully balanced.

Perhaps the mistake made by Vision 2030 was to rely on the keepers of “static quality” in government to do two additional jobs: execute and govern a vision.

So even though we began impressively (as we usually do), we aren’t finishing this 21-year race very well. As such, your company must be careful to institutionalise the execution and governance of its vision and strategy.

This is the only way to ensure that your end game to achieve extraordinary results will avoid decay.

While this may sound like a new concept, we can learn something from a recent success story.

  1. How About a VPOC?

Jamaica’s reduction in our debt to GDP ratio is widely hailed as an international miracle. The bipartisan, long-term effort which borrowed disciplined oversight from private sector, trade unions and civil society remains exemplary.

Perhaps your company needs a VPOC. What’s that? A vision-oriented, EPOC-like institution designed to maintain key aspirations (Economic Programme Oversight Committee). It would actively work to balance static and dynamic quality so that your visionary end-game doesn’t fall into disrepair. (Sometimes a board can play this role.)

The same applies to Vision 2030 Jamaica. Without a VPOC, the gap to becoming “the place of choice” is likely to grow in the remaining six years and ruin the biggest aspiration formed since independence.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To search his prior columns on productivity, strategy, engagement and business processes, send email to