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Spring brings renewal and growth for the MIC

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

Having worked in post-secondary education for nearly two decades, I became accustomed to making May 1st the new year. New budgets, a new academic cycle, and focused planning for the fall and winter terms made for a period of reflection and renewal.

But nothing was more energizing than the onboarding of new staff who were eager to affect positive change in the communities they served.

Expanded MIC team

This spring, I have been able to bring a bit of that same magic through the launch of a MIC co-op student hire and development program.

Three co-op students have joined the MIC team to support innovation across our membership, each adding value to member communities while developing the competencies to be work-ready after graduation.

Ayaan Hussain is a second-year undergraduate student studying Business Administration (Laurier) and Computer Science (Waterloo).

Ayaan is in the role of IT Business Analyst this summer where he is assessing the current state of IT infrastructure and associated spends, identifying critical needs, and highlighting opportunities for partnership as municipalities invest in system upgrades.

Christie Downey has just completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration (Laurier) and will start her Bachelor of Education (Laurier) this fall.

Christie is in the role of Organizational Development Analyst where she is identifying all training and development offerings in the membership, assessing the competencies needed in municipal work, and will do a gap analysis to identify what additional training may be needed.

Scarlett Wang is in her final term of her undergraduate degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Waterloo) where she has focused on tourism development.

Scarlett is in the role of Municipal Service Analyst where she is conducting a comprehensive scan of all member municipalities to identify all services provided, categorize services, and identify organizational structures that support the delivery of each service. Scarlett is also applying a user journey mapping methodology to her work to identify any barriers that community members may experience when trying to access a service.

Each project provides value to community members and to municipal teams:

  • By strengthening our IT infrastructure together, we are building a more robust ecosystem for digital transformation to occur.

  • By identifying each municipal service and the potential pain points that staff and community members experience, we can reduce barriers which leads to greater access.

  • By assessing all training being offered to municipal teams, the resources required to coordinate training, and the competencies needed by staff to meet their roles and responsibilities, we are enhancing our shared capacity to meet the needs of our community members.

How the MIC team approaches our work

My last blog entry referenced the service design model used in British Columbia. The expanded MIC team is using this model as our framework for innovation.

We had the opportunity to meet with each member municipality’s senior management team over the last two weeks and found that the service design model contextualized our shared methodology for different projects.

The service design model

We have moved from the first stage (alignment) into the second stage (discovery). My colleagues are engaged in deep work aided by tremendously supportive municipal staff from all member municipalities.

As we move into the third stage (opportunity identification), insights will emerge around the ways that municipalities can learn from each other and work together. In fact, opportunities have already surfaced including the potential for shared equity, diversity, and inclusion training across the membership.

What lessons have we learned so far?

Scarlett has found that using tools like organizational charts and online service listings have proven to be valuable resources to prepare for each of her informational interviews. Scarlett has also integrated learning from her previous work to support the MIC team in organizing digital archives.

Christie is committed to being intentional with the questions she is asking, doing her research ahead of meetings, and she has taken the time to develop data collection tools that make the information.

Ayaan has realized early success because of his recognition that listening and seeking to understand what the day-to-day problems are for staff must be at the centre of innovation. He also identified additional “value-added” work that could serve other research projects.

My learning has been re-affirmed. Work-integrated learning opportunities provide students with an immersive experience that improves their career prospects after graduation.

Perhaps more importantly, their impact can be significant. For the work to be meaningful, I need to be a good learning partner.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with Ayaan, Christie, and Scarlett!


Written by Dave Shorey, former Innovation Officer at the Municipal Innovation Council.


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