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Change Management

CivicMakers’ 2022 Team Retreat

Taking time to reconnect and recenter in our work

CivicMakers team sitting together around at table outdoors, about to eat lunch.

Last week, we brought our team back together for the first CivicMakers retreat in over three years. In addition to reconnecting face to face we were excited about reconnecting on topics that ground us as an organization and drive us as CivicMakers. This is the work we’re doing to become a more resilient organization.
Our day was filled with open and emergent discussions, including:

  • How does our office environment impact how we work? What are the different office needs and desires across our team?
  • What does leadership and decision-making look like at CivicMakers, now and in the future?
  • How can we work toward diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) in our organization as well as our work?

It was important for us to create a space where everyone felt comfortable sharing and where ideas could be explored without judgment. As a team of facilitators, we are often holding space for dialogue in our work; we also know it takes care and persistence to direct that practice internally.

In our retreat, we centered on two topics in particular: (1) examining our personal and organizational values, and (2) reflecting on our practice to begin shaping a Theory of Change.

Personal & Organizational Values

Our team is the most effective when our personal values are aligned with the values of our organization. Going into this session, our values included:

Our colleagues Judi and Robbie sorting post-its during the values mapping exercise.

  • We prioritize inclusion and equity
  • We listen actively and with empathy
  • We learn by doing
  • We are collaborative
  • We are transparent
  • We are hopeful
  • We are accountable


We took time in solos, dyads, and as a larger group to unpack our diverse values and map how they connected (or didn’t!) with the values of CivicMakers as an organization. We discovered that not everything fit in our boxes, and that was ok. Because we’re HUMAN-centered designers. And humans are messy.

What are we going to do with the messy parts? We will continue this process, defining our values further and examining how they show up in our work. Be sure to look out for upcoming blog posts as we share this journey of revisiting our values and making them actionable! We also invite you to share your journey to bringing values to life within your organizations.

Theory of Change

In the afternoon, our team huddled together to take a pass at mapping the future of our organization, starting with a vision for Long-Term Outcomes and pathways to change that would enable us to make our vision reality. Some of what we were considering included:

  • What language best captures our vision for the future?
  • What would success look or feel like for us and the folks we work with?
  • How do we imagine civic design in 2030?

Although we phrased our visions differently, we found alignment on the things that were most important to us in this work.

Our team member, Leah, placing a post-it on a whiteboard during the Theory of Change discussion.

Next steps for us will be to visualize a pathway to our long-term goals and to map how our work – services, events, and partnerships – will support this change.

Our Theory of Change, an uncommon practice for a for-profit firm, will continue to evolve as we do and as the space does. It will build on itself as we continue to practice inclusive, collaborative civic design and community engagement and co-design with you.

Does your organization have a Theory of Change? What was your process for getting there, and how does it inform your work? Get in touch and sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch.