A Regional Gathering - Moving "Ideas to Results"

The Central Florida Partnership, along with 29 other organizations, welcomed over 150 business and community leaders to A Regional Gathering - Moving Ideas to Results.Convening at The Mission Resort and Club at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, the conversations were lively, the topics were timely, and the outcomes will surely advance Central Florida's competitive advantage.

Special acknowledgement should be given to the members of the Central Florida Regional Caucus, and the organizations they represent, for designing the Agenda for the interactive discussions that took place on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

And to our Moderators, Mark Brewer, Community Foundation of Central Florida, Inc., and Shelley Lauten, myregion.org, we say thank you for keeping us on task, on target, and on time during the highly focused discussions.

Brewer provided a backdrop for our community conversations about Regional Priorities. In the world today, there is more to do, more decisions to make, and more opportunities to explore than ever before. In the old days, we experienced top-down leadership. Today, we are mostly a grassroots system of leadership, leveraging time and resources, shifting from a model where community building is done in an unconnected manner, to a new model where a host of organizations make connections and determine next steps.

Using a new tool called the Six Steps to Civic Innovation, participants tracked where some initiatives are on the scale so that next steps can be identified and "owned" by the right community organization. The Six Steps include: ID and Define the Civic Issue; Research; Convene Stakeholders & Leaders; Engage the Community; Develop & Implement an Action Plan; and Monitor & Communicate Progress. (See the Regional Gathering Workbook.)

Employing these new tools - Igniters, Six Steps to Innovation, and Source Profile Analysis - breakout teams were focused on one of ten civic issues. They included:

Building a Regional Economy to Put More Families Back to Work
Reducing Poverty so that Our "Neighbors in Need" are Strengthened
Solving Chronic Homelessness so that Our Region Can Prosper
Investing in People to Focus on "What Matters Most"
Investing in Infrastructure so that Regional Transportation System is Strengthened
Supporting a Regional Water Supply Plan Balancing Citizen, Business, Environmental Needs
Agreeing on "Who We Are" and How We Communicate that to the World
Agreeing on "Who We Are" and How We Communicate that to One Another
Supporting Civic Infrastructure Required to Advance Our Regional Priorities
Defining Our Responsibilities as Corporations, Civic & Government Institutions & Citizens

Bringing the group back together from their breakout sessions, Mark Brewer collected their summary sheets, and asked about the innovative ideas that came up, or stalled, during the conversation. On Wednesday, they would blend these ideas together and begin to prioritize them on a scorecard using Source Profile Analysis. Revelations included:

- Priorities can mean different things to different groups and individuals.

- Economic development sets the stage for the region, when talking about skills gap, you need to know what kinds of job skills need to be taught.

- Do we have enough data to build consensus, in room, in larger community?

- How hard is it to innovate and ID solutions?

- Local government needs to be more innovative

- Social media is a tool to advance awareness on issues like water, economy, etc.

The following morning, Jacob Stuart, President of the Central Florida Partnership, acknowledged, with appreciation, the appearance of The Honorable Chris Dorworth, who is Chairman of the Central Florida Legislative Delegation and in line to be Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2014, who provided dinner remarks. He also acknowledged special guests in attendance, including Stuart Rogel, CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership; Tony Jenkins, BCBS of Florida; and Craig Swygert, Clear Channel Outdoor, who made it possible to post Tweets about the conference on outdoor digital advertising across Central Florida.

Click here to view more photos from this event.

Mark Brewer acknowledged the need to add one additional civic issue for consideration surrounding racial tensions in Sanford, raised by Allie Braswell, Central Florida Urban League, and making the front page in national print media and on television news.

Also a challenge to innovation is the makeup of the conference attendees and in communities across the country - Baby boomers are idealists, GenXers are very focused, Millenials want to solve problems. He asked attendees to consider these factors as they delved deeper into Civic Innovation, What's Next and Who Owns It, and What Was Learned.

In concluding the community conversation, special guest, Dee Allsop, Ph.D., CEO of Heart+Mind Strategies, provided a review of the Central Florida Values Study, quoting Richard Worthland, "If you're not making dust, you're eating dust." Regions that deal with their problems are most successful when there are active and fully functional public private partnerships. In studying human values, things that matter are centered on those values.

He added that the most power factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic people with goodwill in the world. We focus our energy on where we can make a difference. If we can harness a little of that energy and goodwill, we can help shape the regional vision and motivate people to add their voice. He also encouraged the group not to discount the positive effect social media can have on building a broad base for regional consensus and action.