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57 out to new stakeholders, elected officials or partner leader- areas most relevant to partnering. The following sections cor- ship may change, the roles of project funding or agency part- respond with the model Vision Guide and provide high-level ners may fluctuate, and the scope and scale of a vision may be guidance for structuring and forming partnerships. adjusted at any point in a process. An organizational struc- ture that is able to adapt to current conditions, while main- Preparing the Vision taining clear management responsibility and decision-making authority, will be best suited to fulfilling the purpose of Partnership development is critical within early stages of a visioning and best able to sustain efforts well into the future. visioning process. When preparing for the vision, the prac- titioner must establish an organizational structure, identify Involvement of Decision Makers and reach out to key partners, secure resource committee members from partners, and develop a broad base of support The involvement of a diverse set of stakeholders is important for the visioning effort. These activities require a great deal of in any visioning process; however the involvement of partners resources and time but are invaluable to organizing a success- with ultimate regulatory powers, decision authority, or imple- ful visioning process. mentation responsibility is critical. For example, a vision that addresses issues of transportation and land use will find it challenging to implement the vision if local governments are What Has Been Done? not involved from the onset, or at the very least involved in Visioning processes are sponsored by an existing organiza- implementing partnerships to help craft recommended futures, tion or a newly formed organization. Existing organizations policies, or goals. Similarly, a regional or statewide vision ulti- may be public agencies or private entities, whereas newly mately needs ownership and commitment of regional entities formed organizations often are public-private partnerships. for its successful implementation. Decision makers are often Assessing the capacity, reach, and commitments of existing involved through external partnerships that assist in advisory partnerships or organizations can provide valuable informa- capacities to fine-tune public involvement input or in pro- tion that will help inform whether new strategic partnerships cesses to transfer vision outcomes to related plans and pro- or existing partnerships will be more effective to organize the cesses. A process also may target the involvement of elected visioning process. officials through unique partnerships that suit the profes- sional demands of these rule makers. What Are Our Resources? Diverse Representation Securing commitments from partners is a primary purpose of forming partnerships and a valuable tool for practitioners Partnerships often are formed for the purpose of stake- when organizing a visioning process. Formal partner com- holder involvement. Public participation and input opportu- nities alone cannot ensure diverse representation, but balanced mitment structures may be established, such as sponsorship and strategic partnerships can assure that the key stakeholders, opportunities, requiring funders to buy in to decision-making interests, and players have a voice in the vision development bodies, or entering into formal contractual arrangements. process. Private-sector and community representatives are Informal structures can elicit partner support through pledges important in ensuring that a vision has local champions, of in-kind technical or cash assistance, utilizing existing con- broad business community support, and access to a range of tracting mechanisms for consultant or staff support, or fund- expertise and perspectives, and implementation resources. raising to support specific tasks within the process. Application within Who Will We Involve? the Vision Guide Establishing a defined and accepted decision-making and Forming partnerships is a key task throughout the visioning organizational structure is necessary for a visioning process process, and partners can be engaged either as a need arises to move forward. A generic organizational model for a vision or for the duration of the project. In addition, partnerships process typically involves an executive-level body such as a often are the lasting outcomes of a vision, maintaining coop- steering committee; advisory-level structures such as a techni- erative relationships and momentum for the vision's goals cal advisory group; working-level groups such as task forces; long after public involvement activities are completed. and the public input level, from which direction is initially Within the interactive, online Vision Guide a forming drawn. Each of these organizational structures represents partnerships component helps practitioners identify activity an opportunity to develop diverse, multisector partnerships
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58 among key stakeholders, such as elected officials, implement- to ground-level processes and plans. Partnership models that ing agencies, funders, or citizen groups. serve to integrate related plans with the vision include formal adoption by local agencies or informal endorsement by pri- vate organizations. Securing partner commitments also is Creating the Vision critical to establishing implementation strategies and for pro- Although partnerships are significant during the develop- viding momentum to transfer responsibility for action to ment of a vision statement, it is the final steps of creating the partners. Commitments from partners may include pledges vision that sets the stage for implementation efforts. Without to accept and act on the recommendations of a vision, formal the agreement of significant partners on the final outcomes adoption of the vision into related plans, or agreements to of a vision, the process risks continuing without full support develop demonstration projects. and is not likely to achieve objectives. Maintaining strong partnerships through this phase is challenging and likely How Will We Stay on Track? requires significant networking, compromises, and consen- sus building, but it is necessary to reach a shared vision and Sustaining momentum and partner involvement may be a plan to move forward. challenging in later stages of a visioning process. Partnership structures may help maintain communication among key How Will We Get There? partners through implementation committees or other for- mal models. Informal, broad partnerships such as citizen The roles and responsibilities of partners should be clearly advisory groups may morph into other areas or functions communicated and identified when developing the final vision but still provide oversight and public pressure to act on vision outcomes or products. Partnerships developed during earlier objectives. Developing a reliable commitment tracking pro- input or planning processes may be continued, or the practi- cess also relies on the assistance of partners in developing tioner may foresee the need to create new partnerships geared agreements and guidance on tracking and reporting efforts specifically toward implementation. Partner responsibilities to advance the vision. developed at this stage may be transferred to future commit- ment tracking or outcome measurement processes. Partnership models or arrangements developed at this point in a process What Have We Accomplished? may include formal councils or committees (of elected officials Recognizing the contributions of partners toward vision or implementing agencies) or informal stakeholder groups with outcomes provides an opportunity to reward partners in assigned actions or objectives. success and motivate partners in failure. Partnerships such as steering committees or technical advisory groups are often Implementing the Vision established or renewed to help develop community indica- Without the support of key partners, particularly decision tors or progress reports, or to revisit the vision and determine makers, implementation efforts cannot succeed. Effective next steps. partnerships may actually become the most lasting outcome of a visioning process by coalescing support for coordinated How to Maintain Our Vision? and collaborative activities. Acting on goals and objectives, tracking progress, and maintaining support for the vision For partners to continue to buy into and act on a vision, require continued efforts to maintain current partners and sometimes decades after development, they may need to be forge new partnerships. reengaged in visioning efforts. Partnerships such as steering committees or technical advisory groups are often renewed or established to update components of a vision or to rec- How Will We Realize Our Vision? ognize projects. Partnership structures may be continued or The involvement of partners, particularly decision makers, entirely new organizations may be spun off to address spe- assists in the transition and transfer from high-level visioning cific priorities or projects.