GUYSBOROUGH — Doug Griffiths makes no bones about it: November 16 is going to be a big day for the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) – maybe not the first day of the rest of its life big, but close.
“I’m hard pressed to say that I’ve been to another region with a group of communities that has this much potential,” the Ardrossan, Alberta-based community consultant told The Journal in an interview on Nov. 13. “I’m pretty excited for what they’re gonna do.”
To start, what many are likely to do is attend Griffiths’ long-awaited release of a new strategic plan for economic development in the area – the culmination of months of research, community engagement, thinking and calculation at the behest of the Guysborough District Business Partnership (GBDP) – at the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex Nov. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m.
According to Ashley Cunningham Avery, executive director of the GDBP – formally launched last April – it’ll be a first for the municipality.
“We welcomed Doug as a keynote speaker for our first [major] event in February 2023,” she told The Journal in an online message Nov. 13. “He delivered his impactful 13 Ways presentation focused on obstacles to community growth. The positive reception to his talk to over 100 community members and organizational representatives prompted our board to [ask] him and his colleague Heather Thomson to [help] us formulate a strategic vision for the GDBP. This plan will help guide us [in using] our resources to make a meaningful impact in MODG.”
Griffiths doesn’t care for the phrase “strategic planning exercise.” He prefers to describe what he and his colleagues at 13 Ways Inc. do as “meaningful public engagement.” To this end, he will explain his signature “7 essentials” approach, how he’s applied it to MODG and what it has told him about the community’s past, present and, most importantly, future.
“We’ve done the first three – assessment, engagement and strategic direction,” he said. “Now, the fourth is about a budget that reflects the strategic direction. The fifth is about a brand that is truly reflective of who you are. The sixth is about a marketing strategy, and the seventh is about ‘rinse and repeat’.”
“That last one has sometimes been my most frustrating [to convey]. Sometimes, you get a new council who decides to put their own mark on this and they take a different direction. Well, you know, if Apple had reinvented itself every four years with every new board of directors you would have never heard of it. The strategic direction you take is how you focus on the story you tell the world about who you are and what you are trying to become.”
Beyond that, Griffiths prefers to keep his counsel close – until the launch, of course.
“Let’s just say some of this stuff will challenge some people a bit,” he said. “We dive right into what’s holding the community back...and where its opportunities are.”
Attendance is free of charge. Coffee and tea will be served.