Planning for the Unplanned: Focus on What You Can Control
COVID-19 has forced communities worldwide to adapt, pivot, and react quickly over the past several months. It’s undoubtedly been an extremely challenging year, and it's not over yet.
Perhaps your community has reached a level of new normal and is starting to revisit some of the priorities put on hold at the beginning of the year. The chances are good that many of your priorities will need some adjustment to adapt to the effects COVID-19 has had on your community’s overall economy, large and small businesses, and the local workforce.
Your community needs to pivot in order to adapt your municipal strategies into plans that drive economic recovery despite COVID-19. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Adapt Your Municipal Strategic Plans for Immediate Response
When COVID-19 hit, your community probably went into reaction mode right away. Now, a few months out, you might be wondering: when do you stop reacting, and how do you adapt your strategic plan to address crises on this scale in the future, and get back on track with a recovery plan?
The MDB Insight Suite of Services, tailored to COVID response, can help you get out of reactive mode. Our Action Plans for Immediate Response start with an assessment of your economic, workforce, or municipal development strategies to see where you can offer your community the most help. With relevant data and KPIs you’ll see the real impact COVID-19 has had on your business base and workforce. Then you’ll receive a new map to steer your community towards economic recovery with your community visions and goals in mind.
2. Identify Support Opportunities in Your Business Community
2020 has been a roller coaster experience for businesses. Loss of business, challenging logistics, and concern for community health has hit small businesses hard.
Our Triage BR+E™ tool will help you identify which businesses in your community are thriving and which ones could use some support. The report will help you target the immediate needs of your business community. It will also give you a forecast for business performance in your community, and tell you what items are the highest priority for businesses, like: access to capital, flexible taxation or regulations to support recovery, or resources for professional development or training opportunities for COVID recovery.
Triage BR+E™ gives you a benchmark that you can measure your progress against, on the issues that are important to your community. Our new Triage BR+E™ Index shows you how your community compares to national averages on things like availability of skilled workforce, internet service, cellular service, municipal business taxes, and COVID measures.
Benchmarks help you determine where to focus the efforts of your economic development team, and how to measure progress.
3. Measure Citizen Satisfaction & Implement the Feedback
You’ve probably tried a variety of different types of communication to keep your community informed of your efforts during the pandemic. Unless you measure how satisfied your citizens are with those efforts, you can’t be sure what you can keep doing, what you should change, and what people want to see more of.
Our Citizen Satisfaction IQ™ platform helps you quickly and easily measure the satisfaction of your citizens, and identifies the top priorities of your community members, like jobs for residents, affordable housing, or the natural environment. The program collects the data quickly, makes it easy for residents to respond, and takes a representative sample of your community.
With the added benefit of our Derived Importance model, you’ll be able to identify which factors are the most important in driving citizen satisfaction, and see a projection of how focusing on different priorities would affect overall citizen satisfaction. You also get a unique citizen satisfaction index, which represents overall community sentiment, to provide you with valuable comparison metrics. With clearly defined data, you’ll be able to adjust and adapt your services and programs on the fly to better meet citizen needs.
4. Storytelling for Transparency & Trust
At any time, transparency and accountability help to build trust in your leadership.
By embracing storytelling principles, you can help your community members understand what challenges the community faces and how you will address them. Taking a storytelling approach to communications can help show what resources your organization has or does not have, what community members should do or not do to help out, and what progress is being made in your community.
According to the progress principle, showing people how things are moving forward and how your community is progressing inspires people to continue working towards future goals as a group.
So don’t stop communicating with your citizens. Now is the time, if ever, to focus on sharing information with your community in a way they can relate to. Transparency, hope, and clear next steps go a long way to building your citizens’ trust in your leadership.