One small act: Northeast Ohio Citizen’s League

Posted by laurasteinbrink on July 10, 2008

When Howard Moskowitz realized through his work that there was no single perfect pasta sauce, no single, perfect pickle, or no single perfect Pepsi, he tapped into the power of including multiple perspectives and choices in solving needs.  He said – perfect sauceS, perfect pickleS, perfect PesiS.  He tapped into the power of possibility in the ‘no single bullet’ way of solving problems.  Recently George Nemeth asked me what small acts could people do to bridge the cultural divide from 20th Century methods of leading to 21st Century methods of leading.  There are a million of small acts people and organizations could do – and should do – to strengthen our Region and its economy.  After all, if there is no one perfect pickle, Pepsi or sauce, there can be no one perfect way to strengthen our Region and its economy.

A group of citizens from across the region – ages 14 to very wise – from at least 8 of the 16 ANEO counties – individuals from business, non-profits, government and the general public, convened to talk about forming a Northeast Ohio Citizen’s League.  It was a small act.  A small act with the purpose of committing to build an vehicle to solidify the citizen’s voice in regional improvement and innovation.  It was a first step and they’ve got a lot of work to do, and welcome input and energy from committed, interested individuals from all over Northeast Ohio.  More info will be posted here about it, and in the meantime you can contact the leaders, Mike Gesing and Georgia Reash, if you are curious to learn more.

Welcome ANEO Partners!

Posted by laurasteinbrink on July 2, 2008

A BIG ANEO welcome goes to four new ANEO partners who joined the growing number of individuals and organizations working together to realize economic success for everyone in Northeast Ohio.  CAAO, the Consortium of African American Organizations, the Western Reserve Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and Community Transition Partners.  Its great to have more partners in our work!

When ANEO launched last year about 73 organizations / individuals pledged support to the Region’s Economic Action Plan.  They committed to work together to develop the plan, build support for it and implement projects and strategies together that would increase our economic success as a region.  When our communications materials first were printed, we listed the parters by “type” – i.e., business groups, universities, leadership programs, elected officials / governments.  What we know now, after a year of working together, is that we have partners that represent lots of different types of organizations and who do lots of different types of work.  What they share in common, however, is a preference towards three different ways of engaging in our regions’ work.  They are either Funding Partners, Knowledge/People Partners, or Doing Partners.
Each type of partner is critical to the success of our collective work and when put together, they make the wheels of change turn.

Together, these partners are catalyzing positive change in Northeast Ohio.  Can you imagine what our region would look like if there were 730 individuals and organizations as partners in ANEO?  What would it look like to you?

Can NEO be the best region for the world?

Posted by laurasteinbrink on July 2, 2008

I am blessed as I move about the region and meet so many people and so many organizations doing transformational work.  Over the last 8 weeks of my blog-silence, I’ve met and connected with so many people and great work — the women’s network in Akron, the Taskforce for 21st Century Government in Stark County, the Cle+Ytown+Pitt learning network in the Valley, the PMBA in Akronthe Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, the Local Food Network, Northeast Ohio Citizens League — the list goes on and on and on.  I’ll be writing about each of those in the coming days/weeks in this blog.  As I write about the stories of great work taking place among Partners in ANEO, I’ll also be asking the question I have asked before as I strive to keep alive a state of inquiry.  Inquiry into the idea of how we are being organized.  My assertion is this:  the longer we stay in the state of inquiry the better chance we have in realizing Northeast Ohio can be the best region for the world. 

Question for you:  what organizing principles will lead to economic success for all people in Northeast Ohio and can you give me one example? 

(Thank you Chet Bowling for the words that cleared the blogwebs in by brain.)

Advance Northeast Ohio Partners Meet in Akron

Posted by laurasteinbrink on May 7, 2008

On May 5 Advance Norheast Ohio Partner met in Akron – the first time Partners have convened since ANEO’s launch in 2007.  Gathering at the Taylor Insitutite for Direct Marketing at the University of Akron (also an ANEO Partner), ANEO partners set out to strengthen relationships with each other and explore opportunities for collaborating on behalf of the region.  ANEO partners include representatives from the civic sector, public sector and business; their diverse perspectives of the work and their role in driving our region’s economic competitiveness is impressive.  The challenge at hand is defining HOW Partners will lead Advance Northeast Ohio and regional cooperation.  The short take away based on initial feedback is that the HOW is a big question to answer. 

Over the next few weeks and months the Fund will work with Partners to explore the HOW and your thoughts are also important in this discussion.

You can watch videos from the Partners meeting here.

Defining a Study Commission

Posted by laurasteinbrink on April 28, 2008

A group of Ohio Legislators have introduced legislation to create a commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration.   The legislation calls for an appointment of 9 people appointed by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House and the Governor.  The legislation calls for the final report to be due no later than July 1, 2010.

I say YEAH to the notion of a review of this nature.  The citizens of Northeast Ohio who gave voice during Voices & Choices said it needed to happen in our region – so the state is in alignment with their thinking.  In a network based society (which we are in now) versus a hierarchical society (which is what we had in centuries past), it concerns me to think that 9 people are going to issue recommendations that will affect 11+ million Ohioans and there is no mandate to engage or even listen to Ohio citizens in the process of defining the solutions.  The best plan is one that the implementers are part of creating.  I think the legislation should include some metrics and mid-term deliverables like:

1.  Requirement of open, community-engaged processes that reaches no less than 10% of the entire state population (with appropriate documentation of said process reported on some regular basis).
2.  Requirement that an online space be created where citizens of Ohio can track, monitor and engage with the Commission’s work and progress.
3.  Requirement that each commission member participates in open forums and workshops (where action is initiated, not just talking taking place) and measure and report commission participation.

5 Year Idea Machine

Posted by laurasteinbrink on April 17, 2008

So many times I hear, “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.”  So, the idea gets tossed off the table.  Or I hear, “I had an idea just like that 5 years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere.”  The first comment is draining as it demonstrates lack of willingness to innovate.  The second comment is hopeful as it shows innovation..but was maybe just before its time.

Yesterday Brad Whitehead was speaking to a bunch of students at Ashland University and getting jazzed up about Turning Technologies, the fastest growing privately held software company – located at the Youngstown Business Incubator.  He was saying that soon Turning Point, the audience response technology pioneered by Turning Technologies, will be embedded into cell phones and asked the students, “Won’t it be cool when we are at an Indian’s game and people press 3 to say what kind of pitch C.C. throws next and it shows up on the scoreboard?”

I think it will be cool when we hit 3 as a Region to vote on new ideas that will advance our economy.  The voting may be tied to making grants to fund new ideas, and it may be tied to signing up to help on an initiative, or maybe simply just to have fun celebrating our work.  And, it will be cool when we hit send to upload our ideas that we’ve been storing on the shelf for 5+ years because the time wasn’t right for our innovative new ideas.

So, take this as a call to open up the 5-year Idea Machine.  Go back in your minds and remember those great ideas you started – and maybe stopped – or never started – and think again about whether the time is right, RIGHT NOW.  Dust off your ideas and send them here…and let’s figure out how to get them working!