A New Vision at CML

By Kevin Bommer, CML deputy director 

In his book Start With Why, condensed into a TED Talk available online, Simon Sinek challenges leaders and organizations to “think, act, and communicate from the inside out.” He reminds us that we often do the opposite by first saying what we do, then how we do it, and ending with why we do it because it is going from the “clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.” Sinek says that inspired leaders and organizations start first with a crystal clear vision of “why” to determine the “what” and the “how.” He calls it communicating from “the inside out.” 

For years, people have seen “The Voice of Colorado Cities and Towns” as part of CML’s logo and in email signatures. It represented one of the core functions of the Colorado Municipal League — advocacy — which is to be a megaphone in the state capitol, in the press, in Washington, and anywhere else where the message “keep home rule at home and local control local” needed to be heard. Yet that is only one of the many things that CML does — a “what” and not a “why.” Indeed, the League is considerably more active on behalf of our members, and it was clear that this tagline did not capture what CML does nor why CML exists. 

In 2016, the CML Executive Board and staff identified that the League’s existing vision statement was ponderous and unwieldy — that it didn’t clearly communicate CML’s aspirations in service of our member cities and towns. Throughout 2017, board and staff members engaged in multiple exercises — some facilitated — that challenged us first to think about why CML exists before we think about what CML does. The end result is a new, concise vision of the Colorado Municipal League: 

Empowered cities and towns, united for a strong Colorado. 

In essence, the vision does not begin with CML’s existence as the voice of our members. Rather, if we start with “why,” we come to the conclusion that CML should work for our members to empower each one to carry out their goals. This frame of reference gives CML the ability to shape our goals (what we do) to meet our purpose (why we exist). CML’s goals and objectives supporting our vision were updated by staff and approved by the CML Board on Dec. 15, 2017. The goals are listed on CML’s website. 

Our day-to-day activities support the core functions of the League — advocacy, information, and training. Each core function, like legs of a stool, shares equal importance in ensuring that municipal officials can count on CML to serve their needs and that they have knowledge to affect change locally, regionally, and statewide. 

The vision of CML is now crystal clear. When every municipality is stronger, the state is stronger, and this vision will drive all decisions going forward as to what CML does and how CML will do it.