Curlers know that in order to execute the perfect shot you need three things: a place to go, a plan to get there, and lots of communication along the way. Your economic development strategy is no different.
Curling is the perfect metaphor for what a good economic development strategy can do for your community. In curling, the team identifies where they want the rock to end up before they even start to talk about how to get it there. And, once the rock is in motion, the team constantly communicates in order to make minor corrections to ensure that the rock ends up precisely where the team wants it to.
Your economic development strategy is no different. It should describe concisely where the economic development organization wants to end up, how it will get there, and allow for ample communication along the way.
A sound economic development strategy should clearly articulate where the plan will take the community’s economic development efforts. In essence, it will describe what the future will look like if the plan is successful. What will be achieved? What will be improved? What will be different? After those questions are answered you’ll have a good idea of where you want to end up.
Once you know where you’re going, you need to figure out how to get there. A well-built economic development strategy will contain a number of objectives and initiatives that can be followed in order to move the community from where it is today to where it wants to be tomorrow. What obstacles need to be overcome or avoided? Where are there likely to be constraints? What resources are needed to achieve the plan? Who can help? Working through some of these questions will help an organization identify the best path to get to their desired outcome.
And, once the plan is in motion, communication is critical. Those that are helping to achieve the plan need to know what’s expected of them, where they can contribute, and what type of help is needed. Those following the plan need to understand what’s working and what’s not, what’s happening right now, and what’s going to happen soon. And most importantly, constant communication allows the economic development team to make minor corrections to keep the plan on track and the target in sight.
The elite level curling teams understand that in order to win they have to know where they’re going, know how they’re going to get there, and communicate with each other every step of the way. Elite level economic development organizations do the same. The results are often spectacular.
Richard Horncastle, Ec.D. is a consultant and certified economic developer. With a passion for growing communities (and having some fun along the way) Richard is a partner at Keystone Strategies based in Leduc, Alberta, where he lives with his wife and two sons.