Opportunities & Challenges:
The Gwinnett County (GA) Public Library serves one of the fastest growing and most diverse countiesin the US with fifteen branch locations and more on the way. The Library is internationally recognized as an innovator in its field; and its leadership knows that when you’re at the top of your game is the time to up your game even further for success. The challenge was to create a strategic plan to guide the library for the next five to seven years: one that is flexible—allowing the organization to cultivate its position in and relationship to a changing community—and one that provides concrete guidance for action in the near-, middle-, and longer term.

What we did:
M&B engaged the Library in an eight-month planning process that included extensive stakeholder engagement, research and careful crafting and review of the plan. We invited staff, community leaders, strategic partners, and citizens to participate in the process, so that the whole community has its “fingerprints” on the final product. We then worked with a group of key stakeholders to examine findings and develop goals and strategies. A set of action items was developed, along with extensive project plans, to create the first round of implementation for the plan.

Deliverables:
Deliverables include the strategic plan document, detailed documentation and processes for managing implementation and documents to guide further planning efforts.

Opportunities & Challenges:

The Paterson Alliance was founded in 1998 by five nonprofit agencies in the City of Paterson, New Jersey, who came together understanding that collectively the Paterson nonprofit community needed to set an agenda that would advance the quality of life in the City. The Alliance has grown to a membership of more than 70 organizations. With budgets tightening and the needs of citizens greater than ever, it is essential to align passion, talent and capability to produce the highest and most effective outcomes for Paterson. Hence the need for a creative and inclusive strategic plan.

What We Did

M&B facilitated a strategic planning process based on collaboration between Alliance members and community leaders. The process included a series of “Community Café’s”, where participants shared their vision for Paterson and their understanding of current reality, and collectively designed a way forward. Once the plan was created, we held an event, where champions of the plan came together to prioritize action items and recommit to collaboration.

Results:

The Paterson Alliance continues to be an anchor for the nonprofit community, which is stronger than ever. The planning process helped to galvanize members for collective action and reinforce a new narrative for Paterson, one of optimism and success. Programs like the flagship “Think Pre-k” early childhood initiative, and the Paterson Full Service Community School Nonprofit Collective Impact Project are making a huge difference to the people the Alliance serves.

M&B continues to work with the Paterson Alliance to support collaboration and the development of initiatives.

Opportunities & Challenges:

Revitalize 19 cities and towns in North Central New Jersey, on the verge of re-urbanization, but saddled with home rule political processes, the buildings and the infrastructure are still in place from a time when America was first settled (the 1600s), when New Jersey factories were a powerhouse of the Industrial Era (the 1800s) and when families flocked to newly created suburbs on the borders of decaying urban centres (the mid-1900s).

What we did:

In collaboration with Camoin Associates, Maverick & Boutique facilitated a two year program to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the North-Central Region of New Jersey via the John S. Watson Institute, a policy arm of the Thomas Edison State College that provides support for the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association.

The project was conducted in three overlapping phases – research, planning and implementation, so that teams recruited to help plan new initiates, were also being encouraged to begin the process of implementation – otherwise known as Strategic Doing.

The first stage of the project involved a study of the industry, employment, wages, and occupational base for the 19 municipalities that make up the region, a study of the business climate of the region and the municipalities including: infrastructure, labor, incentives, taxation, buildings/land and  a review of opportunities for private investment leading to job creation, especially in emerging industries, such as advanced manufacturing, “green” construction, environmental services and alternative energy.

During the second stage, M&B facilitated the work of a region-wide strategy 50-member planning committee of business, political and community leaders as well representatives from critical infrastructure and government services organizations. The committee met on a regular basis, both as a committee to develop the overall strategy, and as task forces to scope initiatives in six focus areas – training as an economic engine, infrastructure renewal, small business development, implementation assistance under a formal regional organization structure and a collective modular marketing program. As the programs develop, new people with the necessary skills, knowledge or access to resources were invited to join he effort.

In a third and overlapping stage, we helped Watson Institute staff recruit Community Implementation and Planning Teams in each of the municipalities; identify and design shovel- ready projects; and help each community develop local versions of the regional initiatives.

Deliverable:

Read the 2015 Urban-Focused Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the North-Central Region of NJ here!

 

 

Opportunities & Challenges:

Develop a winning plan for the I-86 Corridor to compete in New York State’s one-time competition for $500 million in economic development funding, including an ecosystem of well-developed project concepts to deal strategically with the critical issues facing the Corridor.

What we did:

M&B, in collaboration with Camoin Associates, an economic development firm, and Bergman, an engineering firm, designed and facilitated an accelerated strategic planning process for the I-86 Corridor to meet a tight eight-week deadline from start to finish to prepare for a one-off state-wide competition for large-scale investment funding. The project involved two counties, seven municipalities, and 70-80 stakeholders representing utilities, business, education, community and local government groups.

Our work resulted in the I-86 Corridor consortium and its partners in nearby Binghamton, which forms the Southern Tier, being awarded a $500 million investment from the State of New York to fund their projects.

M&B employed a combination of the Zing technology, systems maps, and project planning templates, to guide participants through the strategic planning process. The result is an ecosystem of 50 fully developed systematically interrelated projects/programs. Each project/program is described in considerable detail including action steps, strategic measures, governance, anticipated budget and funding and physical resources and talent required.

The workshops were conducted in two blocks of three days during which the participants prepared detailed project plans for infrastructure, innovation, industry development, governance, creating vibrant communities, workforce development and education, and tourism/marketing/branding.

M&B also facilitated a series of robust conversation with the steering committee to develop a corporate structure and implementation process to ensure the many participating stakeholder could work together flexibly under the auspices of an overarching governing body charged with project management oversight.

Deliverable:

View the I-86 Innovation Corridor- Strategic Action Plan, July 2015, here!

 

 

 

Opportunities & Challenges:

The Materiel Group within the Canadian Department of National sought to develop the capacities of Project Team Leaders and Managers to think and operate more flexibly, adaptively, and creatively.

What we did:

In 2014, M&B delivered a four day course: Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Complex Project Management. Participants appreciated the personal coaching by the presenters as they learned to apply each framework to a challenging project issue, that each person, or intact team, brought to the course. They also liked the opportunity to work in groups to openly explore issues with colleagues and learn from each other.

Opportunities & Challenges:

Reverse the jobs jobs in the once thriving IT and telecommunication sector and the closure of Fort Monmouth were eclipsed by Hurricane Sandy which damaged large swathes of the Jersey Shore. High property values and inadequate cross-county transport options excluded young families and service workers from the economic mix and limited the county’s ability to flourish.

What we did:

With our partner Camoin Associates we completed a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that balances housing that is affordable in clusters around transport hubs with new business and job creation initiatives. Maverick & Boutique conducted a series of workshops with community leaders to generate ideas for cross-boundary initiatives to get people working better together in a region that has historically been siloed with groups unable to integrate their interests for sustainable action. M&B provided its Zing facilitation tool to allow participants to simultaneously view and generate ideas together.

The integration of community input and stakeholder buy-in was particularly important to ensure that the final plan will be implementable and achievable with the support of the public officials and residents.

Deliverable:

See the final report here!

Opportunities & Challenges:

To develop a vision for American International School of Rotterdam (AISR), as well as action steps to realize the vision and guiding principles that will inform the thought and action of the school community. Accreditation guidelines require that the entire school population must be represented in the process, including board, faculty, staff, students and parents.

What we did:

M&B partnered with the Cleveland Consulting Group to facilitate the event. On each of the first two days, groups of about 70 persons, representing a diverse mix from our community—students from grades 5-12 (including learning support and EAL students), faculty, staff, parents and board members—were lead through an interactive process to explore our collective values and aspirations, how we might make our school an even better place to learn and teach, how we might express the essence of AISR and how we will put our values into action.

The knowledge we created in the first two sessions was correlated by our facilitators and presented on the third day to a plenary group consisting of participants from the first two days. This group then collaborated to craft working vision and mission statements for the school, and language for our guiding principles.

The beauty of this process is that the new knowledge produced is made—and owned— by the whole community, rather than by a few individuals. Everyone is represented and acknowledged and has an equal part to play in the outcome. The process itself has helped to build capacity in our community for cross-boundary/group collaboration, helping us to hear and understand each other and to work together to achieve our goals.

Thoughts from Participants:

At the end of the first two days, we asked for thoughts and feelings about the day from each participant. These are included in the report you may download. At the end of Day Three, we asked for comments from anyone in the group who would like to contribute their thoughts about the entire event. Here is what we received:

“I think it’s good we all got to share our opinions of the school and how we can improve.”

“We’ve grown together as a school. Not often do we get to sit down together to work on a common task and have everybody heard.”

“It was very interesting to go through the process and see what everyone’s perspective is. Provide everyone the opportunity to think about what the school is and should give more meaning every day when people walk through the gate.”

“AISR is a unique place to work and it was nice to meet students I didn’t know. We’re are a small school and have the chance to interact with others.”

“The teachers and parents should commend the students on their hard work.”

“Unique process that allowed all of us together to come up with something meaningful. I really enjoyed meeting the students and to see how creative you all are.”

“I am very excited to go this school and meet a lot of friendly students and friends. And let’s let the school be better to complete our dreams.”

“I think it’s great to see that even though there are some differences of what the school can improve upon, there are a lot of ideas that everyone agrees on.”

“I wanted to complement the school on the organization of getting this done and working with this method. We needed to stretch ourselves to come up with the results we came up with today. I’m thrilled and touched to see how committed everybody is.”

“It’s a big opportunity to be at this school because it’s a safe one. I really enjoy this school when many other children don’t have the opportunity. It’s perfect.”

Deliverable:

See the event report here!

View a short video feature on the event:

 

 

 

Opportunities & Challenges:

Faced with an aging population, declining income levels, critical skills shortages in new industries and the lasting impact of Tropical Storm Irene, the State of Vermont hired a team of consultants including Maverick & Boutique team to develop the 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) in 2013-14. Although Vermont has developed an enviable reputation for its skiing, cycling, culinary tourism, green energy, craft beer, cheeses, ice cream and chocolates; the state faces a plethora of systemic problems that can only be fixed if everyone works well together.

For example, sprawl eats up farmlands while brownfield sites from closed industries from a bygone era and dying downtowns remained undeveloped. the permitting process designed to protect the beautiful environment is difficult for small to medium size entrepreneurs find to navigate. Unaffordable housing contributes to the difficulty of attracting talent for emerging industries. Residents desire their energy to be “clean and green” but don’t want windmills on hill tops.

What we did:

M&B facilitated stakeholder engagement meetings in nine regions, conducted workshops with cabinet level officials, developed some 70 initiatives in six key areas – with a strong emphasis on developing the capacity of the tourism and working landscape sector to capitalize on the trend towards consumer interest in high-value added experiences, the revitalization of villages as destinations, and developing skills in village scale government administration, green energy, agriculture, forestry, advanced manufacturing, health and IT.

Deliverable:

View the Vermont 2020 COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY (CEDS).

Opportunities & Challenges:

Over the past three decades, Australia has shifted its focus away from Europe to Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, with China and Japan being Australia’s two main trading partners, and India, South Korea and Indonesia becoming just as important.  The national government decided embark on a long-term project to engage more deeply with Asia, to ensure that Australia develops the skills, and cultural awareness to build stronger relationships.

What we did:

After the government’s Australia in the Asian Century Task Force completed their report, Maverick & Boutique was asked by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet to help develop the internal team responsible for the implementation of the plan to develop strategies for involving 30 other departments, major corporations, small business, universities and trade Organization in the roll-out of the plan. For this one day workshop, the implementation team used the Zing meeting system to rapidly share ideas, and reach agreement about the way forward.

 

Opportunities & Challenges:

In 2011, Maverick & Boutique was engaged by the New Jersey State Library and LibraryLinkNJ, the New Jersey Library Cooperative, to facilitate the development of a state-wide strategic master plan for the 2000+ libraries of all types in New Jersey.

Libraries continue to face substantial challenges, both as an institution and on the ground day to day. Public libraries, for example, are receiving unprecedented demand for services such as citizen access to the internet, the lending of materials that people could not otherwise access or afford and help with writing resumes to get jobs or studying for new careers. Yet the services of public and school libraries are being reduced or curtailed to help balance state and municipal budgets. Libraries of all kinds are having to redefine their value to their communities and, in many cases, reinvent what they do to remain a vital part of 21st century life.

What we did:

Maverick & Boutique helped the New Jersey library community cooperatively create a “living” strategic plan that put in place not only specific goals and measures—including some 33 initiatives—but also one that delivers an ongoing process for reinvention that any library can use, guided by the plan, as the need arises.

The planning process included multiple community engagement sessions held around the state to obtain the broadest possible range of input from stakeholders, extensive research into promising practices around the globe and close interaction with the directors and staff at LibraryLinkNJ and the State library.

Deliverables:

View the July 2013 Executive Summary, Statewide Strategic Plan, and the “Create Our Future” sheet.