The way you learn is the way we do business.


 

   The way you learn is the way we do business.



The AMATS Story

Posted by 

Rick Stockburger


Background

 

With a deep background in “knowing” what to do…many times the tough question becomes how to get into action…the “doing.” This is particularly the case for civic efforts with large geographic and cultural footprints. One such location is Northeast Ohio. With a population of around 4.2 million people, NE Ohio is a complex region of industrial (including significant rust belt history), rural, and urban settings with one of America’s most intricate and complex infrastructures of local governments.

In response to a request from the Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association’s Regional Prosperity Initiative (RPI), a Land Use “Community of Practice” was formed to help drive collaboration around past experiences for the purpose of supporting learning for future progress. Success of the Land Use CoP helped create strong support and confidence in the region, in part resulting in award of one of HUD’s largest Sustainable Community Grants (NEOSCC).

 

The Challenge

 

“The only way to boil an ocean is by doing it one cup at a time.”

The challenge became finding a ‘cup’ that would step up (self-select) and move into action.

 

The Solution

 

With a strong representation and leadership role in both the Land Use CoP and NEOSCC, Akron’s regional & metropolitan planning organization (AMATS) created a Connecting Communities Grant (CCG) process to award selected member communities in its region with funding to support local action. Included in the effort was the application of Knowledge Management (KM). Realizing that you cannot have knowledge without people, AMATS became the central repository for learning – with particular emphasis on key activities such as community facilitation, coaching in collaborative community formation, action based learning practices. AMATS would also demonstrate tangible results in support of projects and in enhanced community relationships in support of collaborative action and learning.

 

The Outcome

 

After a three year program, AMATS was in a new place.

“The impact of this program has lead AMATS to a new level of performance. It has touched everything from how we relate to the communities in our region, to how we work with each other in AMATS. Viewing everything we do as a place for learning from each other to continuously improve has put us in a level of performance we really did not know we were capable of. And this has been noticed by everyone we work with. Many of the things we are doing now would just not have happened had we not done this program.”- Jason Segedy, Director - AMATS.


In addition, Connecting Communities saw major revisions thanks to learnings across various communities and projects…resulting in a more effective and closer relationship with members and participants. This included local and national foundations contributing additional funds (and participating) in expanding successes. AMATS also found ways to speed its Connecting Communities program by approximately 6 months – some 30% faster than in the past.

In addition, a core member of the AMATS staff became fully certified in the practice of managing knowledge and will provide leadership in key efforts to spread continuous learning across all areas of AMATS, its partner organizations, and in the communities and organizations it touches.

 
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