Strategy to Drive Community


Jasper Newton Foundation
Strategic Planning, Community, Community Foundations

Because the rural lifestyle deserves a cutting edge approach.

Crane + Grey began working in Jasper and Newton Counties in 2018 when we were approached by a group of stakeholders who wanted to bring a big vision to life for the region. The group included multiple economic development agencies, community groups, and the region’s major foundation. The project would illustrate the power of our Narrative Planning structure by wedding together the many stakeholders under one vision for the future.

We began with a deep-dive research project that included statistical modeling and analysis, interviewing, focus grouping, a series of town hall events, and survey research. The research concluded with our narrative writing process which incorporated thousands of unique stories and ideas into a single vision. After the research project concluded, we began developing narrative working groups and building strategies within each group.

With strategies and research in hand, it was time to take key leadership on an intensive 2-day planning retreat. The retreat saw the story come to life as we worked together on prioritization and budgeting then began to workshop tactics and projects. Best of all, the group was able to realize gaps and build partnerships in real-time within the framework of our Plot Points.

COVID-19 threw a wrench in the release of the plan, but also illustrated the agility of our framework. Keeping the story in focus, the Jasper Newton Driving Home plan was able to adapt to the unusual circumstances of a global pandemic and pivot the focus to health and wellness for the short term without losing the broader goals. Since its release, the Driving Home plan has brought together disparate groups, forged new partnerships, and demonstrated measurable success in terms of health, economic, and family outcomes.

Why build a plan around story?

The power of storytelling is undeniable. It allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, create empathy, and communicate complex ideas in a simple and memorable way. This is why storytelling plays a crucial role in the strategic planning process, as it enables us to uncover and communicate a shared vision that can inspire and motivate stakeholders to work towards a common goal.

In the case of Crane + Grey’s work with Jasper and Newton Counties, the narrative planning structure was used to bring together various stakeholders under one vision for the future. By conducting in-depth research, including statistical modeling, analysis, and town hall events, Crane + Grey was able to gather thousands of unique stories and ideas from the residents of both counties.

By incorporating these stories and ideas into a single vision, Crane + Grey was able to create a powerful narrative that resonated with stakeholders, including economic development agencies, community groups, and the region’s major foundation. This shared vision became the foundation for the Driving Home plan and was used to guide the development of strategies and tactics to achieve the broader goals.

The importance of starting with a shared vision cannot be overstated. By doing so, Crane + Grey was able to create a plan that was grounded in the needs, aspirations, and values of the people it was meant to serve. This helped to build buy-in and support from stakeholders, which was crucial to the success of the plan.

COVID-19 presented a significant challenge to the implementation of the Driving Home plan. However, the agility of the narrative planning framework allowed for the plan to adapt to the new circumstances while still maintaining its focus on the shared vision. The focus on health and wellness in the short term not only helped to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic but also demonstrated the flexibility and resilience of the plan.

In summary, building a plan around a shared vision rooted in storytelling can help to create a sense of purpose and alignment among stakeholders. It can also serve as a powerful tool for communication, inspiring buy-in and support from those who are critical to the success of the plan. The Driving Home plan is a testament to the power of narrative planning and the impact it can have on communities.

What was the impact?

The impact of the Driving Home plan has been significant, even in its early stages. The plan has brought together disparate groups and forged new partnerships, demonstrating the power of a shared vision in bringing about collaboration and action.

One area where the plan has already made a difference is in pre-K education. The plan has helped to address the pre-K education crisis in the region by developing strategies and tactics to increase access to quality pre-K education. Additionally, the plan has reshaped the way people think about their home and their community, instilling a sense of pride and ownership in the region’s future. The Driving Home plan is already making a tangible difference in the lives of the residents of Jasper and Newton Counties, and its impact is only set to grow in the coming years.