Regional initiatives among workforce, education and economic development organizations are becoming more prevalent to build effective industry sector strategies to help grow the economy. Some states have reorganized their funding streams from a local to a regional configuration to encourage cross-agency collaboration in finding solutions to complex workforce issues.
Below are some strategies to remember to include in your regional collaborative planning processes so that your communication efforts build a business case of support, garner funding and evoke emotional commitment from a wide range of stakeholders.
Start with writing a simple one- to two-page document that answers these key questions.
- What regional issue(s) are you trying to resolve through collaborative planning? Use quantitative data points about key workforce issues and trends and qualitative data that include the voice of the sector in which businesses validate the data points to ensure the issue is occurring in real time.
- Who will be positively impacted by the work? Add the human element to your narrative by sharing stories about the people and businesses the regional collaborative aims to help and how they are struggling with the very issue being addressed.
- What strategies do the partners recommend to resolve the current issue(s)? Outline the overarching strategies to be used to resolve the issues and explain how these will be achieved and measured. Identify the partners who will contribute to the actions and the resources being brought to the table.
- If the strategies are successful, what are the benefits to the region? Make sure to include the value propositions for all target audiences involved in the regional collaborative, including internal stakeholders doing the work, the community at large and the end customer(s).
- Have you communicated any early wins? Collaborations by nature are very messy, often with no clear indicator that the “needle of change” is moving. Promoting the work of the collaborative should not be an afterthought but should be built into planning processes. Regional stakeholders and the community at large need to understand the progress steps and milestones that have been accomplished.