Our Operating Philosophy
(1) Legitimate Pathways
A recent study suggests that it takes about 3.5% of a community to make transformative changes in the community. Based on the work that our team has done, we agree with this estimate and often find that in every community, this small minority of individuals are the ones who will set up and experiment with new ideas and approaches for the betterment of their community. Communities that thrive economically over time and those that can remain resilient in the face of economic shocks are the ones that have established legitimate and effective pathways for individuals to express and achieve their potential. Often we see such ladders for progress broken for groups of community citizens. Communities must focus intently on removing such community obstructions. These pathways can express themselves in several different ways: socially and economically connecting disparate groups, improving the quality of programming, education, and support programs; and finally, ensuring that the economy has expressed facets that enable the economy to be as inclusive as possible.
(2) Education & Awareness
While expanding and refining the quality of support programming in a community is important, it is even more critical to ensure that the community gains an understanding of the programs and services that are already available to them.
Rural communities have ample talent and passionate leaders. What they lack is the insights and the tools that can help them attain more with limited resources. We believe strongly that every community has incredible support programs that are often being underutilized. This underutilization is because of the general lack of understanding that the community at large has about them. The leadership of a community has an expressed goal to identify such opportunities, drive aggressive community engagement and remove community excuses that they ‘just didn’t know’ about a program.
(3) Pilot and Scale
When trying to determine which tactics and projects to prioritize, communities must think, ‘scale’. In essence, how can limited resources and support help craft a solution that can be applied once and which yields impact to the broadest arena of stakeholders. Additionally, communities must become more entrepreneurial in the way that they approach the development of projects. Rather than investing big dollars or investing extensive effort in developing complex programs, communities should be thinking MVP (Minimally Viable Products). In essence, test out an idea with a minimal amount of investment. Determine the viability of the solutions, tweak the program, demonstrate impact with a legitimate customer, and then if it seems as though there is legitimacy to the solution (customer need and quality of solution), then scale up the program.
(4) Culture of Kaizen
When re-invigorating the economic planning efforts, communities must keep in mind what attitude they want to convey to the community at large. This is especially true in smaller communities where programs attract visibility. As programs and projects are launched, they must be focused on the following: Act with a sense of urgency, Be Accountable, and finally be Kaizen (learn and improve). Communities that are stagnating economically, above and beyond anything else, want to see positive movement. By demonstrating that the program is continually delivering on its promises and learning from its experiences, community leaders can fundamentally pivot the direction of a community’s economic journey.
(5) Tactics Over Strategies
We realize that the magic around how you transform the economics of a community lies not in conducting broad strategic studies, rather, in how well you empower the community leaders and the key stakeholders to implement and execute the projects that help support the strategies. Every community has strategic plans that are collecting dust. When thinking about the path forward, communities must be practical and act with a sense of deep urgency.
Having worked with over 50 communities, Innovation Economy Partners understands the critical resources constraints of our community leaders. We have developed a comprehensive methodology, targeted playbooks, an array of technologies, and collaboration platforms to help local leaders attain more faster.