Planning & Visioning

Community Engagement

Financial Capital

Keeping it Local


Adaptation to Change

Learning from Experience

Learning from Experience

What is Learning from Experience?

What works, and what doesn?t? Municipalities can learn by evaluating their experiences and comparing results with other areas. Evaluation can either be formal, with hired staff and data analysis, or informal, with reflective discussions focused on effectiveness. Municipalities that learn from experience are able to say how effective CED policies and programs have been, based on changes in key indicators over time. Key indicators could include income and employment statistics, or documentation of community health, equality, and engagement. According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a complete project evaluation will:

  • Examine how a project functions within the economic, social, and political environment of its community and project setting (?context? evaluation)
  • Help with the planning, setting up, and carrying out of a project, as well as the documentation of the evolution of a project (?implementation? evaluation)
  • Assess the short- and long-term results of a project (?outcome? evaluation)

Why Learning from Experience?

Communities that successfully learn from experience can...

  • Maintain accountability by measuring and attaining goals
  • Use limited resources wisely by eliminating duplication of time and effort
  • Promote accomplishments by celebrating and using success stories

How Do You Learn from Experience?

There are some important steps involved when doing an evaluation. Here are some of these steps to help you get started:

  • Identify goals and key indicators such as health and economic statistics
  • Use annual reports to communicate change and effectiveness over time
  • Profile success using published numbers, case studies and public recognition
  • Measure strengths, weaknesses (attributes which help or hinder achieving a set objective), and opportunities and threats from external influences
  • Check your project context, implementation and outcomes against your plan, vision and actions
  • Use what you find; evaluation is only useful when results are acted upon

Looking for More? Please see page 41 for more resources on Leadership.

Community Quality Institute

The Community Quality Institute (CQI) of Sault Ste. Marie is a unique approach to aid communities in making evidence- based decisions that contribute positively to community quality of life. The CQI publishes a comprehensive Community Performance Report every year by bringing together local experts in many different sectors, and examining how the town is functioning based on a variety of indicators contributing to quality of life. Another recent publication measures the external costs of poverty in the community and explores the connection between poverty and the economy. One of their future goals is to expand into the surrounding region, in order to provide support to smaller communities. Visit

Wallaceburg Market and Skills Analysis

The Wallaceburg Community Task Force conducted a Labour Market and Skills Development Analysis. This analysis recognized gaps related to skills and education in the community and proposed solutions. Stuart McFadden, Project Manager for the Task Force, emphasizes the importance of assessing assets. “Perception is not always reality,” says McFadden. “Many in Wallaceburg couldn't figure out why companies would leave a community that had such a skilled workforce. Our Labour Market Analysis proved that we had a very experienced workforce. There is a huge difference.”

The Task Force engaged the community early through SWOT Analysis and a Community Strategic Planning Conference, and months later, community members continue to send ideas and contacts for potential new businesses to locate in the area.

Huron Manufacturing Awards

The annual Huron Manufacturing Awards dinner and tradeshow attracts 30 businesses and 300 people each year, representing manufacturing, municipalities and other local businesses. A number of award categories are presented, including junior manufacturer, product innovation, corporate citizenship, green leadership, and health, safety, and technical teaching. Companies can compete in categories under and over 20 employees. A number of scholarships are supported by the United Communities Credit Union and the Huron Manufacturing Association, giving $1000 to six apprentices in Huron County. These awards have in turn profiled Huron County and contribute to its numerous awards at the Ontario Economic Development Council.

Monitoring at Tourism Niagara

Tourism Niagara uses specific indicators to monitor success:

  • Hits on the Tourism Niagara website
  • Amount and type of visitors to the Gateway Niagara Information Centre (this can be measured using a door ticker)
  • Ontario Tourism official website with statistics regarding room occupancy ratesSurveys that gather more detailed information about visitor needs and experience


DOWNLOADS: Best Practices Guide (6.6Mb), Resource Materials (3.7Mb), OPPI Article (7.5Mb)