MPAC transformed itself from a traditional hierarchy into a collaborative organization focusing on innovation. What began as an employee engagement process fed into participatory strategic planning that engaged hundreds of employees as well as the management, board, and stakeholders. Now employees take risks and launch innovation projects. Participatory group processes helped MPAC save millions of dollars in operating costs, increase its adoption of technologies, and win a Gold Impact Award from the International Association of Facilitators.

At first:

MPAC assesses the value of millions of properties across Ontario providing municipalities with data for property taxes. Old ways of doing business and old styles of management needed to change as a new generation of employees and managers filtered into the traditional hierarchical culture. Since nobody likes taxes and few understand property valuation MPAC was a regular target for public criticism.

Our solution:

ICA helped co-design and facilitate employee engagement sessions producing outputs that could feed into strategic planning whenever the opportunity arose. The experience of participation coupled with powerful methods and tools equipped the whole organization to make fundamental yet practical shifts. There was no predetermined outcome in this incremental approach, just the momentum of positive practical change supported by enthusiastic leadership.

  • Step 1
    An ICA trained facilitator in the planning department asked to take over responsibility for employee engagement. A series of carefully structured and repeatable 1-day workshops helped staff to make sense out of their past experience, connect them across disciplines and regions, and release their hopes and dreams about the future. A buzz of excitement caught the attention of management and board.
  • Step 2
    The seed has been planted as management saw how the outputs could feed into a strategic plan, never before done. Managers and staff reviewed the visionary outputs of the employee engagement sessions and built a model that held the wisdom of all the people, polishing it into a five year plan.
  • Step 3
    The CEO declared the plan to be his guiding light. His task was to empower and inspire people to operate in the way that employees had defined: take risks, innovate, fail fast but smart, achieve results without micromanagement, and use the wisdom of the people who do the work. Staff addressed big issues like how to trim millions from their budget and have a little fun doing it.
  • Step 4
    Staff were trained to facilitate and implement short-term plans on innovative topics. Some staff developed skill in facilitation, training, coaching and received certification. This has enabled ongoing improvements through action planning, strategic planning, problem solving and think-tanks.

The Result

MPAC trimmed tens of millions of dollars from their operating expenses lowering costs to municipalities. They proactively engaged with their stakeholders on topics of mutual importance and put new tools into the hands of the public. They shifted the culture of MPAC by using the wisdom of employees to co-create strategic plans and following through on them. MPAC has cultivated a new generation of empowered, creative employees.