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Accelerate Community Success through Interdependent Leadership

By Randall A. Yagiela, Founder of Transformation Connection

The wisdom to turn each community around during unprecedented economic times is embedded in the local citizens who understand that resources and assets may come from the state capital or Washington D.C., but the design of their future starts at home. That design is possible with interdependent strategies and leadership. Great independent leadership of our community organizations is no match for great interdependent strategies and leadership among the sectors of our local economies.  Interdependent strategies can build a new economic synergy for communities.

In 1999 I wrote a white paper on community interdependence. It was actually called “A Declaration of Interdependence”.   The ideas expressed in the declaration are as important as ever:  Communities need to adopt new interdependent strategic behavior because the economy will change at a more and more rapid pace.

Two years later along with the great tragedies of 9/11 was a lingering shock to the economy. More recently the financial crisis of 2008, the auto crisis, global economic instability, lingering high unemployment, and congressional impasse have helped us understand that the traditional cycle and nature of the economy is gone. Focusing on what we can do to recharge, rebuild, or rethink our local economies is the daily dialog at local chambers, in local daily newspapers, and the focus of many devoted citizens.  Efficiencies in reaction to the demands of the economy are occurring, saving organizations and communities cost by sharing people, processes, facilities, and other resources.  Those are necessary changes but the focus is on operational cost saving and not growing community profitability. One way to help refocus the dialog is to consider becoming more interdependent at a strategic level.

Community interdependence means giving up some independent decision making, sharing your organization’s talent in a collective and recognizable new start.  Interdependent strategic alliance is beginning to be implemented where the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of new paradigms.  To become interdependent, commissions and boards of directors are starting to lead the way through planning sessions to co-create the path of their next three to five years.  The goals of the commissions and boards become linking economic development planning with workforce strategies for their communities, supporting their schools with an eye on return on investment, and supporting their private sector as job one. One opportunity, for example, is creating a strategic plan with the private sector to move beyond independent past assumptions and reactions of what the economy might be to finding consensus on the skills that will be demanded in three to five years and publically positioning the community to meet those goals through interdependent planning, collaboration, and metrics.  To maintain interdependence, employees from the collaborative work with each other daily to assure the planning is effectively carried out, to change course if necessary, to measure the progress, and to learn from each other, which improves communication and efficiency.  More of the goals of workforce and economic leaders in any community become intertwined, interdependent, and more impacting.  

Randall A. Yagiela is founder of Transformation Connection.  For more information, visit