Wayne Tomorrow- Guiding Principles
An Integrated "Principle Based" Approach To Managing Dramatic Change
In An Uncertain and Continually Changing Landscape
Wayne County along with its neighbor Pike County, represents a beautiful and largely pristine rural region of Pennsylvania that has also had a successful and diverse economic and cultural history. Owing to its proximity to eastern population centers and to the vast coal reserves located in and around Scranton, Wayne County became a significant driver of the early economic activity and growth of America. It began in 1828 with the building of the Delaware and Hudson canal system to transport coal and other goods to east coast population centers. This was quickly supplanted by the commercial railroad industry that actually began in Wayne County's county seat, Honesdale. The Canal and Railroad eras in-turn created an enviable economic and transportation infrastructure that supported a growing population and spawned a third era of community based manufacturing that continued through the early to mid twentieth century.
However, beginning around World War II, the economic advantages afforded by having a robust manufacturing and rail infrastructure began to diminish and the local economy started shifting to one largely based on the sectors of Retail Trade and Recreational Accommodations and Food Service. Unfortunately, these also happen to be among the lowest paying sectors in the state and national economies when it comes to family sustaining wages. It is largely for this reason that today, Wayne County ranks near the bottom in terms of its relative per capita wages. This trend has gradually led to a population mix of aging long-term residents that tend to be more economically challenged as compared with their part-time and retired neighbors that generally tend to be more affluent.
Wayne Tomorrow- (a new integrated approach)
In 2013, Wayne County recognized that these evolving trends were leading to unsustainable communities from an economic, cultural and educational perspective. This realization led to the creation of Wayne Tomorrow, a commissioner and community supported planning initiative aimed at reversing these negative trends through community planned initiatives across a number of dimensions including quality of life, sustainability, economic development, youth and education (workforce development) and agriculture. One of the early take-a-ways from this work was the commonality and interconnectedness between individuals and organizations when identifying those things that were most important for the county to consider for ensuring a bright and positive future.
Over a period of several years, dedicated work groups working under the Wayne Tomorrow umbrella identified goals and prioritized a number of short- and long-term projects that are covered in some depth in Wayne Tomorrow's Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan represents an integrated and staged development plan, which is the basis of a dynamic and evolving economic and cultural ecosystem that is envisioned to be foundational for future community and business growth.
Almost all leading literature on the subjects of community and economic development suggests the importance of building natural ecosystems where all the essential “elements of life” co-exist in a balanced and integrated fashion. In this context, we’re talking about making sure the essential elements needed for creating a supportive and adaptable “growth environment” are in place. Consider this a blended virtual and physical environment where the “germ” of good and interconnected ideas can take hold and flourish. The essential and highly interdependent elements of Wayne County's Economic and Cultural Ecosystem include the following:
Access to affordable quality healthcare and education (early childhood through focused career training) that serves the needs of residents and facilitates diverse population growth
Access to essential building blocks for sustained economic development and employment growth
- Physical facilities for business incubation and growth [vertical market neutral]
- Investment capital for business formation and social infrastructure projects
- Access to proven business coaching expertise and mentorship
- A technological infrastructure that supports the starting and operating of 21st Century businesses [again, vertical market neutral]
- Fulfillment of an ongoing digital community structure which facilitates timely information sharing between physically dispersed residents and builds a enhanced sense of "community"
A safe and attractive physical environment that's conducive to building sustainable businesses and raising a family that's centered on maintaining a long term relationship with Wayne County
- Existence of vibrant social and recreational outlets that serve the diverse needs of resident's from different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds.
Since business and society are constantly changing, the word "adaptable" really needs to be reinforced. Given the pace of technological and cultural changes, it is virtually impossible to predict with certainty what the future will look like in just 10 years, let alone 15 or 20. While Wayne Tomorrow's projects may today represent concrete tangible ideas for producing anticipated and positive results, they may well require adaptive changes along the way. Sound daunting? Not really.
Defining Guiding Principles
The key to Wayne County building an effective and adaptable ecosystem and keeping pace with the evolving demands of the 21st Century is adherence to core principles that will necessarily guide public discourse and decision making. So what is a core principle and why is it so important?
n the most basic sense, principles are defined as basic tenets or truth’s that serve to guide an entity or organization in all circumstances throughout its life, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, or its public or private leadership. Adherence to these core principles is critically important since without them, change becomes random and the organization can easily fall victim to constantly morphing circumstances, in essence “sailing without a rudder”. Change will most assuredly occur, the question is whether it happens “to” an organization or whether it’s directed and whether the organization is actively managing the change process consistent with stated values as codified in a set of guiding principles.
Core principles tend to represent basic tenets that most everyone agrees with, but things that often never enter into formal discussions or decision making. Without creating a principle based decision filter that forces attention to the proper balancing/weighting of core principles, unintended and negative results can easily occur (such as a lack of connectivity between people and organizations and the perpetuation of a "silo" focused culture) . One of the keys is to gain buy in up-front on how an organization intends to handle conflicts between principles which, on the surface, may appear to be at odds with one another. It’s relatively easy to dismiss an action that is consistent with one principle, but tends to negatively impact one or more others. The more difficult but essential thing is to ensure there’s an active filtering process that allows the various individuals and entities comprising Wayne Tomorrow to step back and make balanced decisions. These decisions necessarily need to be based on the "context" of a given situation considering the effect of any particular action as measured against the net overall effect looked at within a guiding framework that always considers the full effects of pro's and con's.
Wayne Tomorrow’s Guiding Principles
The following core principles represent a starting point for collaborative Wayne Tomorrow discussions and decisions that are intended to drive consensus and/ or clearly identify areas of disagreement that are impeding progress which need to be actively addressed.
- One of the most important core principles is to always support ethical behavior and cultivate a respectful and embracing culture of collaboration between people and organizations (as opposed to a historical culture that often drove competition between people and silo organizations and frequently delivered sub optimal performance)
- Wayne County understands the importance of open communications and the need to facilitate effective ways for people to exchange information (including digital) and to interact regardless of their physical transportation issues
- Wayne County understands that in addition to open and candid internal communications, there will be an ongoing need to aggressively market itself to people and organizations beyond its borders. This interdependency with northeast population centers will facilitate business attraction, economic advancement and population growth
- Wayne County is an integral part of the Northern Pocono/Upper Delaware Region and serves as a recreational destination location for the population centers of NY, NJ and Philadelphia. We intend to pursue our economic and cultural independence and sovereignty while also seeking to maintain our distinction as a recreational destination. No public or private actions will be endorsed or supported which are at odds with these key points.
- Wayne County is fortunate to have a largely unsullied natural environment that is important not only from an environmental perspective, but also for providing recreational outlets to its people and for visitor’s that reside outside the county As such, public and private actions that maintain and promote our natural assets will be supported and encouraged whenever possible.
- Wayne County recognizes the need for a strong economic foundation that can only be achieved through a more diverse industry/business profile. Activities that increase the ratio of higher-paying "family sustaining" jobs and work opportunities, as contrasted with the relatively low wage profile that currently dominates Wayne County's economy will be strongly supported and encouraged.
- Wayne County promotes diversity- particularly with respect to people and economic initiatives. A diverse cultural environment that serves the needs of people of differing ages and backgrounds is important to the future of the county and will be pursued.
- Wayne County recognizes that the building of an integrated economic and cultural ecosystem that is resilient to economic and cultural shocks is imperative for its ongoing success and sustainability. While the detailed components of an ecosystem (discussed elsewhere) may change over time due to shifts in technology, societal values, etc, the need to always maintain a vital, relevant and nurturing ecosystem is understood to be a key guiding principle for Wayne County.
- Accordingly, Wayne County will ensure that the necessary financial and human investment Capital is available to ensure going forward success. It is recognized that this Capital will necessarily need to take the form of time commitments from private citizens, public servants and from both public grants and focused public borrowings that are supported by the County Commissioner’s and the community.
- Wayne County understands that the world has changed and that it needs to embrace the development and maintenance of a basic technological infrastructure that is essential for 21st Century business formation and for existing businesses to remain competitive. Therefore, the county makes a firm commitment to keep pace with technological infrastructure demands such as ensuring business class synchronous broadband is available ubiquitously within the county. Keeping pace with enabling technology infrastructure will be seen as a foundational platform for business and community development and not as an end unto itself.
- Maintaining vibrancy and sustainability within the community will always require attention to issues such as transportation, health, energy, housing and the sourcing of food.
- All other things being equal, it is recognized that local self sufficiency is preferable to dependence. Whenever possible, this principle will serve to guide Wayne County now and in the future.
- Wayne county will have a bias for action and will seek to balance new innovative "cutting edge" initiatives aimed at achieving its strategic objectives with actions that emulate proven "change" templates and methodologies that have worked successfully elsewhere under similar circumstances. In all cases, initiatives will be monitored, measured and "adjusted" as necessary to ensure optimal success.