A “How-To” Workbook for Regional Actors

10.30.2012 | A new publication takes planners through the steps to achieving regional development goals. In Getting Things Done Together: A Workbook for Achieving Regional Goals Getting Things Done Together, BRR and the National League of Cities offer step-by-step exercises for groups to frame a coherent agenda for your work, decide who should be involved, and identify what resources, information, and connections will be needed to succeed.


The workbook is intended for “people who are ready and willing to work toward accomplishing an important goal for their communities and neighboring areas: from the local government official or civic leader who wants to increase affordable housing in the area, to the residents who seek to protect a river from pollution, to the business group that believes the local economy needs a smarter plan for attracting high-tech employers.”

Working “regionally” means different things to different people. Some immediately imaging working across government sectors to accomplish goals. However, as the authors write in the introduction, they envision “working regionally” a little differently:

Often, when people talk or write about “working regionally” or about “regional governance,” they focus on governmental forms — that is, how governments can or should create structures to work across political and jurisdictional lines. This workbook proposes instead a focus that is less about structure and more about the goals to be achieved and the capacity needed to accomplish those goals.

By “capacity,” we mean the ability of people and institutions to organize, figure out what will work, accumulate the necessary resources, and act on a specific problem or issue.

“Regional governance” simply refers to how people and institutions work together to achieve goals in multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral environments. Governance is not itself the goal: the goal is solving problems and seizing opportunities.

In other words, this is not about “making nice” or about one group or jurisdiction surrendering interests to others. It’s about interacting with one another to weigh alternative courses of action and to navigate differences in order to address a problem or opportunity.

The process is divided into four parts, each with hands-on guides for accomplishing the objectives.

Part 1: How to Use This Workbook introduces the process and helps identify key allies and key sources of information.

Part 2: Getting Started offers an initial set of questions for assessing purpose, geographical scope, stage, and potential for success of the goals.

Part 3: Getting to Work  prompts participants to explore 15 factors that move groups toward their goal, including agenda, actors, internal and external capacity, and experience operating at the regional level to solve problems.

Part 4: Bringing It All Together—Deciding What to Do Next  assesses the strengths and weaknesses of an initiative’s overall capacity and where to invest additional effort.


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