Looking Back at Map to the Future 2016

Mar 30, 2016

Map to the Future 2016 is a wrap! Thank you to everyone who sponsored, attended, or followed us on Twitter, and congratulations to the Canadian geo community for taking this step forward. You can read a recap of this event here.

This event was held to achieve two key outcomes, and we are very pleased with the results. Our objectives were:

  1. Validate and reinforce GeoAlliance Canada’s mandate by identifying the key opportunities and risks for both individual organizations and the community created by the formation of an umbrella organization.
  2. Generate and evaluate project concept for consideration as pilot projects.

The first outcome was the more difficult to achieve. GeoAlliance Canada was formed out of the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table (CGCRT) in 2015 and armed with the Action Plandeveloped by committees and working groups. This document covered a lot of ground! There’s no doubt that there is a lot of work to do, but difficult questions remained about how to prioritize the proposed actions, how to allocate resources, and who would take on what items. In short, the Action Plan wasn’t so much a roadmap as a collection of opportunities and suggestions. It did not include any discussion of metrics to evaluate the proposed actions, and it became evident quite quickly that different members of our community had different ideas about what parts of the plan GeoAlliance Canada should be prioritizing.

Internally, the GeoAlliance Canada Interim Board took steps to develop a vision and mandate to guide our actions. Rather than present this to the community as a done deal, we opted to open up the conversation one more time to check to see whether we were still aligned with the wishes of the community. This was done by presenting Map to the Future attendees the following four statements:

  1. GeoAlliance Canada should benchmark and measure sector success on a national scale. These benchmarks will help us message our collective efforts to address sector-wide issues over time. Doing so will help us facilitate the advancement of high impact projects.
  2. As an umbrella organization, GeoAlliance Canada can provide an holistic view and approach to identifying challenges faced by its member community and facilitate the advancement of high impact projects.
  3. In order to scale its impact, GeoAlliance Canada will focus its efforts on facilitating opportunity optimization for its member community using a transparent, industry wide roadmap.
  4. Beyond the facilitation of success and growth in the geo community, GeoAlliance Canada will champion and elevate the voice of the geo community both nationally and internationally through strategic communication across diverse media channels.

Participants were asked to identify key opportunities and risks for their own organizations and for the greater geo community based on these four statements. This process allowed us to validate our assumptions and correct our course if necessary. The GeoAlliance Canada Interim Board will use these statements of opportunity and risk to ensure that the organization’s mandate is as strong as possible, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the formation of a national umbrella while taking care to mitigate the risks.

The next challenge was to use the crowdsourced opportunity statements as a springboard for a project brainstorming session. First, small groups brainstormed actions to take advantage of the opportunities they had identified. Then, working as individuals or small teams, their most promising idea was fleshed out more fully and evaluated using project concept cards and project evaluation cards. On the project concept cards, participants worked through a series of questions:  

  • What’s the real problem you are trying to solve?
  • How do you want to solve this problem?
  • How will you benefit from the problem and solution?
  • How will the community benefit?
  • What are the biggest challenges to make this happen?
  • What are the opportunities to overcome these challenges?
  • What are the risks that will prevent you from overcoming these challenges?

Once the project concepts were clearly defined, each was evaluated using project evaluation cards. These cards scored each project for how strongly it related to each of the mandate statements that had been previously discussed, and introduced a series of innovation criteria. Each project concept was scored for its desirability (how much it would benefit the community), feasibility (how easily it could get off the ground) and viability (how sustainable it would be, or what long term impact it would have.) Projects were self-evaluated first, and then revised and re-evaluated by table groups. Finally, volunteers stepped up to the podium to present their ideas to the room for peer evaluation. All the project concept and evaluation cards were collected and will be considered by a new GeoAlliance Canada project assessment committee.

In the coming weeks, the geo community should expect to hear a more clearly articulated statement of our proposed role within the geography, geomatics and geospatial community from the GeoAlliance Canada Interim Board. Based on the work we did in Calgary, we are confident we can move forward with GeoAlliance Canada operating as a central hub, adding value to new and ongoing collaborative projects that support our mandate, and helping you move your projects from the concept phase through to completion. Our goal is to increase the overall investment in projects that will benefit us all by providing a framework for bringing good (i.e. desirable, viable, and feasible) ideas to fruition.

Ours is a community that faces a number of challenges, and it is not realistic for any one organization to solve all the problems that have been identified and discussed. Going forward, GeoAlliance Canada will operate as a solution facilitator rather than a solution provider. Our community is intelligent, innovative, and determined. We’ve seen that in the years (decades, even) of dialogue that has brought us to this point. Problems have been clearly identified and solutions proposed. Now is the time for us to work together to define, fund, and undertake the solutions, together.

We are very pleased with the outcomes of the Map to the Future event. We will be in touch with everyone who submitted a project proposal at this event in the coming weeks. If you did not attend the event but have a project proposal you’d like to put forward, please note that there will be an opportunity to do so online. The Map to the Future projects will be used to test this model, and then a web portal will be opened to accept new ideas on a continuous basis. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tags: Team Canada

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