Today, I completed a two-day seminar focused on developing regional ecosystems with leaders from across the DMV region (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia). This seminar is part of the GWU Regional Executive Development Program (REDP). The participants in REDP represent leaders across county government. This class included leaders from the following county governments: the City of Alexandria (VA), Arlington County (VA), Fairfax County (VA), Falls Church (VA), Montgomery County (MD), Prince George’s County (MD), Prince William County  (VA), the Town of Bladensburg, and the District of Columbia.

We had representatives from housing, human services, the water and sewer authority, aging, public works, family services, police, fire, transportation, and more. It was truly a cross-regional and interdisciplinary group.

As I walked them through the process of designing a regional ecosystem, we explored some of the challenges that leaders in local and county governments face. They find themselves increasingly dealing with the challenges of using data and metrics to guide their agencies and to inform the public. Big data, open data, and the use of balanced scorecard-like performance management systems are forcing them to think differently. They find themselves being held accountable for metrics and for outcomes that they can not control on their own. Working with others, in other agencies and outside of government, is becoming increasingly critical to their success.

If you’re working in government today, you must be prepared to map the relationships, the stakeholders, and the forces at play in your ecosystem. Understanding your ecosystem and how it functions is important to your ability to deliver results and outcomes in an environment that requires multi-sector and inter-governmental collective action.

Here are some pictures of the ecosystem diagrams produced during the class.

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