Strategic Plan Still Sitting on the Shelf?

NLEA Team took part in Strategic Doing Workshop hosted by MSU Extension which taught the practice of collaborative leadership to move action items forward.

Like many organizational planning sessions, a group is hired to come in and help write a strategic plan and after hours of work the question still remains, “how do we implement this?” Oftentimes a plan either doesn’t have a sense of purpose, or it wasn’t specific enough for anyone to carry out.

To add to this lack of purpose, meetings are often ineffective: 73 percent of employees do other work in meetings and 75 percent of individuals have no formal training to run a meeting.

The problem is that our meetings and collaborative groups today are no longer hierarchical, chain-of-command type settings, and often there is nothing in place to make sure group members are accountable for work they do or don’t do. “Instead of our old habits of command and control, we have to figure out how to align and activate a network of people and organizations;” this is the concept behind Strategic Doing.

At its root, Strategic Doing can propel a small, focused group to bring something to the table and each have a role in making a project happen. With 10 simple rules, your meetings and plans can be transformed:

  1. Create and maintain a safe space for deep, focused conversations. Identify the core group of 6 action oriented individuals and meet in a space that will foster discussion.
  2. Frame conversation around appreciative question. Positive problem solving. Imagine if your community could be X? What would that look like?
  3. Uncover hidden assets among the group. Have everyone share what they bring to the table, strengths, connections, and project ideas.
  4. Link and leverage your assets to create new opportunities. You may notice aligned interests or project ideas forming, or discover contacts that could help make projects possible. Combine the group assets and you can move a project forward easier.
  5. Rank all your opportunities to find your “Big Easy.” This is the idea which will impact the most people in your community, and is relatively easy to implement. Rank the ease and impact of the projects on your list. First, each person evaluates the potential impact if it were completely successful with 5 being high and 1 being low. Next, each person evaluates how easy or difficult it would be with 5 being easy and 1 being difficult. Add everyone’s numbers then total impact and ease scores to find your “Big Easy.”
  6. Convert your “Big Easy” into an outcome with measurable characteristics. What would people see, how would they feel, and how would their lives be different?
  7. Define at least one Pathfinder Project with guideposts. This is your pilot project to help you test some assumptions that could be completed within approximately 3 to 6 months. (Could be phase one of your project to create an initial buzz)
  8. Draft an action plan with everyone taking a small step. What will each member in the group do in the next 30 days? Everyone must contribute at least an hour of their time to a part of the project, and document their contribution to the group.
  9. Set a 30/30 meeting to review progress. What has been done in the last 30 days, and what needs to happen in the next 30?
  10. Nudge, connect, and promote relentlessly to build your new habits of collaboration. Keep each other accountable and get to work.

Authored By: Andy Hayes, President, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. Andy is a long-time member of MEDA.

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Grow Your Talent Pool

Some of us have been around long enough to remember what a tight labor market looks like. It’s certainly better than the alternative. A carefully crafted talent strategy can be the difference between winning projects and being left on the sidelines.

Building Construction 3The first step in a talent strategy is to determine who to collaborate with on implementation. You will need expertise and resources and no economic development agency has enough of either. Colleges, universities and workforce development agencies are obvious partners, but here are a few others you might consider:

  • Public sector – communities can’t grow without jobs and investment
  • Private sector – they have as much to gain as you and they might be willing to provide funding
  • Recruitment agencies – they need talent, too
  • Military branches of government – they offer a ready supply of returning veterans
  • Faith-based organizations – they have great networks
  • Public and intermediate schools – school counselors can guide and influence graduating seniors

Business Professionals2The easiest win in the talent attraction game is commuters. They drive out of your county to pursue higher pay within the region or jobs that aren’t readily available in your area. In a tight labor market, wages typically go up. Companies are desperate for talent and will provide better pay and benefits. The key to this strategy is awareness. Try posting advertisements on well-placed billboards or in newspapers outside the county to announce local job opportunities. Electronic billboards can be an affordable way to post your next job fair or list a company’s hard-to-fill engineering job.

Recruiting talent outside of your area is difficult and can be expensive. First, partner with real estate brokers to develop listings and welcome packets. You’ll need housing if you are going to recruit workforce. Second, identify markets similar to yours where available workers are located. Place advertisements in their local newspapers that point people to a jobs board or website where job postings are available. Companies might help to pay for these ads, so remember to ask.

Emerging Leaders for WebsiteOn average, about 30% of high school graduates are not going to college. This is your workforce of tomorrow. This is a great partnership opportunity for educators, the private sector and economic developers. Professional days, facility tours, company profiles on MI Bright Future and summer camps can help to educate young people regarding employment opportunities. They won’t have a lot of work experience, so promote internships and job shadowing.

These are just a few of the strategies you can employ to recruit talent to your community. As you talk to your partners, you will discover other strategies and programs. Remember that if you do nothing, your talent might be someone else’s target. So be aggressive and you can win the talent war.

Authored by: Dan Casey, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. Dan is a Member at Large on MEDA’s Board of Directors.

Go For It!

Raised HandsEver think about joining a MEDA committee or running for the Board? And your next thought is probably “What am I thinking? Stop me before I volunteer again!” That’s normal. Everybody has plenty of work to do already. But I’d recommend doing it anyway. There is a lot to be gained on a personal level as well as for the good of the organization.

I’m about to rotate off of 6 years on the MEDA Board of Directors, and I have no clue how many years on the Education Committee.

What did that time mean to me?

  • Working with people from all over the state, which was a real education in different perspectives and issues.
  • Broadening my network of professional contacts
  • Educating our membership on my organization’s economic development efforts
  • Influencing the direction of a statewide organization
  • Working with some amazingly talented people

What is really unique about volunteering for MEDA is the professional support and attention to detail. John & Cassandra do the overwhelming majority of the legwork when the meeting is over. You will not walk out of a MEDA Committee or Board meeting with a bigger laundry list of work to do! Can’t beat that!

Some of you may be thinking, if it’s so great, why is she rotating off the Board? A fair question! Organizations need fresh blood – new ideas, new thinking. So, if you are at all interested, my advice is “Go for it!”

Authored by: Peggy Black, Principal Account Manager, DTE Energy. Peggy Black spent six years on MEDA’s Board of Directors and two of those years as President.

MEDA Members: View MEDA’s Active Committees and email cjorae@medaweb.org to let her know where you want to participate!

Where Collaboration Shapes Success

AM14Photo (640x640)I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying my Michigan summer so far. Our state has so much to offer in both things to do and people to meet. That’s why I’m really getting excited about my trip to Boyne Mountain Resort this August 20 – 22 for the MEDA Annual Meeting.

This year I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to serve as the Annual Meeting Committee Chair. I know firsthand the caliber of expertise represented on that committee and their professional intent to offer an outstanding agenda for everyone.

In an effort to “reinvent” Michigan there has been a great deal of discussion and emphasis on regionalism, forming partnerships and working collaboratively within and across jurisdictions in an overall effort to streamline processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs. With this in mind, we themed this year’s meeting “Operation Sandbox: Where Collaboration Shapes Success.”

Over the course of the two day conference, we will tackle some of the difficult issues economic developers wrestle with while meeting the challenge of successfully forming practical and meaningful collaborations to “get their job done.” Along the way, we will hear of the success stories from communities who have taken action and formed some very unique partnerships to solve very unique problems. Hint: our list of economic development partners is broadening to include some nontraditional players.

I am also eager to hear our keynote speaker, Della Rucker, Principal at Wise Economy, who wrote The Local Economy Revolution, What’s Changed and How You Can Help. I read and thoroughly enjoyed her book. She speaks about a sea change in the way the world works today and how communities and economic developers may need to adjust their thinking on how they approach these changes. I expect some interesting recommendations.

So, as I said, I’m very excited this summer to be in Michigan and to be a part of the important work that is being done to keep Michigan moving forward. But, there is always more to learn, more interesting people to meet so I hope you will join me in August for the MEDA Annual Meeting.

See you in August!

Marsha

Marsha Madle, CBSP
Madle Consulting Services, LLC
Meridian Township EDC