I recently had the opportunity to help facilitate a Corporate Visioning exercise for a town in Alberta. Since I had never participated in or facilitated a Corporate Visioning exercise before, I was unsure what to expect. However, after going through it now, I cannot stress enough how important it is for municipalities and other organizations to undertake such exercises among their staff and leaders.
The idea behind a Corporate Visioning exercise is to create common goals, values, and beliefs through all levels of the organization. These exercises assist in ensuring that Council, the CAO, management and staff are all operating by the same guiding principles, and therefore providing the best service to the people who choose to make the town their home.
Being able to facilitate the exercise part of the time and watch the exercise sometimes, too, was fascinating. While it is fair to say that most public servants are doing their jobs with the benefit of others in mind, staff members of the municipality naturally came into the session with their own values and beliefs, but probably with their own role first.
We started the session by having small staff groups discuss what each of the town’s values meant to them and how the values would show up as they carry out their day-to-day roles. Then, through the large group brainstorming and small group discussions, staff were also able to discuss how they viewed each other’s roles, the difficulties that may be present in certain roles and departments, and how they can better work together for the betterment of everyone and the town.
Once groups were able to discuss and brainstorm, we went around the room and gathered general thoughts and ideas from each group. This created great discussion from the larger group, and people could collaborate and think of roles outside of their own with the municipality.
After the session was over, it was our job to gather the data from the small groups and pull together a report for the municipality. That report provided management with themes that supported the values identified as corporate-wide values and some definitions to go along with those themes. Ultimately, this work is to the benefit of all staff to understand each other’s motivations and pull together as a team to make their municipality the best it can be. This will also help make the town a great place to work and might even attract some new people!
It is incredible what you can learn when you sit down as a group and work through a set of values that will guide each person in their role of service. What are we all working towards without common goals, values, and beliefs anyway?