We all have dreams, but how often are we asked to share them?

We all have dreams, but how often are we asked to share them?

We’ve been listening. A lot. From user interviews to our 2015 Year in Review survey, we’ve had a healthy obsession with collecting your feedback. We’re obsessed because we know by listening and responding to our community, we’ll grow CivicMakers in an organic and meaningful way — a way that helps us all learn and have the knowledge and resources we need to create big impact.

With this in mind, the CivicMakers Team, in collaboration with Danny Spitzberg of Peak Agency, facilitated a Participatory Planning Session on Saturday, January 23rd with over a dozen attendees. We wanted to test the assumptions made while developing our Strategic Priorities for 2016, which were divided into four pillars: Community, Revenue, Organization and Product. We experimented with a process for the session, adapted from Eugene Kim’s Strategy / Culture Bicycle, so we could “learn how to learn” from our community. This process allowed us to hear what potential value could be created by CivicMakers, and helped us come up with meaningful ways to serve a broad constituency by understanding their needs more fully.

We’d like to share with you some of what we were planning to do, and what changed after the 3-hour session where we listened and responded to feedback from folks who are working in and around the civic space. Below are some learnings from each pillar.

The CivicMakers Team and participants from our Participatory Planning Session on January 23rd at General Assembly in San Francisco, CA

The CivicMakers Team and participants from our Participatory Planning Session on January 23rd at General Assembly in San Francisco, CA

Community

Our goal for the Community pillar is to increase community engagement and brand relationships. We ended up nesting our Organization pillar, which focused on CivicMakers organizational culture and infrastructure, under Community because our internal operations did not quite resonate with participants. This was a key learning — in our effort to be fully transparent, we realized some areas of growing CivicMakers are not best suited for external feedback. We’ve decided the Organization pillar can be more directly informed by our advisors who are closer to our operations.

What We Learned

  • Participants appreciate quality, signature events from CivicMakers
  • Need for safe, welcoming spaces for diverse participants
  • In developing our brand, CivicMakers should ensure we are using inclusive language
    Get “beyond our networks”

What We’re Doing

  • Experimenting with new, engaging event formats like our upcoming Collaboration Cafe
    Refine and test language we use to promote events and programs
  • Develop mechanism for capturing professional background of event attendees, i.e. tech, social impact, and/or business affiliations
  • Cast a wider net for event participants and potential users of the CivicMakers platform and continue to grow email list
    Stay focused on our vision of more people making better decisions together by thinking outside our typical networks

Revenue

The primary goal behind the Revenue pillar for 2016 was for CivicMakers to establish a sustainable business model so we support our work to achieve our mission! Participants also agreed with our priority to develop relationships with funders, but new themes also emerged under this pillar.

What We Learned

  • CivicMakers’ focus on civic innovation could potentially provide value for companies struggling with CSR and employee engagement initiatives
  • Develop a cross-pollination of public/private approaches to community building
  • Create a shared space for civic innovators

What We’re Doing

  • Brainstorming how we might work with companies to expand our service offering
  • Researching the development of a market certification and membership offering for corporations
  • Identifying sites to host civic innovation co-working pop-ups

Product

Lastly, in terms of Product, CivicMakers seeks to be the go-to place for civic innovators to find the people, tools and knowledge they need to be successful. We are committed to continuously soliciting perspectives from our community to ensure we are creating tools that provide tangible value.

What We Learned

  • Need for more technology and non-technology collaboration
  • Online and offline opportunities for connection

What We’re Doing

  • Continue to pilot, test and iterate the CivicMakers platform, events and consulting services
  • Keep community engagement focus in mind across all pillars
  • Listen early and often in our product development efforts

MOVING FORWARD

We want to thank everyone who was in the room — design strategists, technologists, political advocates, researchers and business consultants — for sharing their time, energy, expertise and dreams with us on a Saturday morning! Did we mention that out of our dozen or so attendees, 5 different countries were represented?! We could not have asked for a more interesting and passionate group to help shape CivicMakers over the next year.

What did we miss? Feel free to share a comment on how we can work together to accelerate civic impact.