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Case study: City of Hayward Strategic Plan

Aligning city council priorities with the daily work of city staff

The City of Hayward faced challenges in aligning city council priorities with the day-to-day efforts of staff. CivicMakers supported them in achieving alignment through a collaborative strategic planning effort that meaningfully engaged City Council, staff across departments, and community members.


To co-create a shared vision for the future and begin to define a strategic roadmap, we facilitated Council’s yearly retreat, engaged City staff across all levels, and hosted community pop-up workshops at the farmer’s market, libraries, schools, along with an online community survey.

Once the city had agreed on a shared vision and list of priorities, we facilitated a series of cross-departmental staff working sessions to help each group develop detailed work plans, metrics, and funding.


Through workshops with city staff and city council, we identified a mismatch between council expectations and staff capacity. Through our collaborative strategic planning process, we were able to bolster understanding on both sides and ultimately build consensus around a set of six priorities and specific projects.

Through our pop-up workshops we learned that many community members felt the City was on the right track with the draft vision and priorities. Community input helped staff refine and prioritize their project lists.

We returned to help the city conduct their annual evaluation a year later. Through staff focus groups and a council workshop, we identified that prioritization was a big challenge and they were struggling to accomplish everything that had been laid out in the plan (pre-COVID). Additionally, staffing and financial resources had not been properly matched to some of the projects in the plan. The revised strategic roadmap addressed these challenges by reducing or postponing multiple projects and integrating more closely with the city budget.


We crafted a strategic roadmap that provides a direct line of sight between the City Council’s overall vision, the community’s priorities, and the daily work of staff, including a shared vision, six priority areas, and hundreds of projects. In addition to the planning effort, we helped the City implement the Roadmap by integrating it into the budget, developing success metrics, and establishing a continual review process. We were also invited back a year later to help update the Roadmap to account for COVID-19 impacts (and as part of the annual review process).

“CivicMakers was a great partner with the City of Hayward in preparing our first Citywide strategic plan that was unanimously approved by our City Council. They were exceptional at responding to the City’s needs, preparing graphically attractive deliverables, and collaborating closely with the City Council, employees and community members. We would definitely work with CivicMakers again.”

Jennifer Ott Deputy City Manager, City of Hayward

Client Need

The process of crafting Hayward’s first citywide strategic plan was a collaborative effort between City Council, staff, and community members.

We began by facilitating City Council’s yearly retreat, where we co-created a compelling three year vision. With the participation of the City’s Executive Team and through stakeholder interviews with staff various departments, we refined that vision into six strategic priorities and began brainstorming specific projects that would accomplish each priority.

Our Approach

We then set out to engage staff across departments and levels. We did this through a ‘gallery walk’ that was set up in many City buildings and offsite satellite locations, such as the Corp Yard. The gallery walk included information about the draft vision and priorities and invited staff to share feedback on post-it notes (or online).

We simultaneously held three public ‘pop-up’ workshops to invite community feedback. These pop-ups were staged in heavily traffic areas like the Farmer’s Market, Hayward BART station, and local Cal State campus to meet residents in convenient locations. The pop-ups were paired with an online survey.

Finally, the project lists were vetted with staff who used their subject matter expertise to refine and ‘right-size’ the projects to existing capacity and resources. From there, we developed year-one objectives that could be used in staff work plans. Because many of these projects are cross-departmental, this involved several collaborative working sessions with diverse groups of staff. Finally, we supported an effort to align the plan with the City budget and develop an annual review process.

Throughout the entire process we heard an appreciation from staff and community members for the opportunity to weigh in. While the initial draft vision and priorities were already closely aligned with community and staff perspectives, the engagement process helped us glean valuable input to fine tune the final Strategic Roadmap, which was unanimously passed by City Council.

City of Hayward's Strategic Roadmap Wheel

City of Hayward's Strategic Roadmap Wheel


  • Reached consensus between Council and the Executive team on the priority areas and hundreds of projects
  • Integrated input from 50+ staff across departments and levels in the organization as well as feedback from 100+ residents
  • Grew capacity at the City for human-centered strategic planning
  • The Strategic Roadmap was unanimously passed by City Council and was successfully updated (with our help) in 2021 as part of the planned annual update process