Community Planning Mindset: Transformational Thinking

Posted by Michele Wong on Jun 15, 2016 10:30:08 AM

In many ways, the work of the residential, community, or corporate planner is transformational by nature. These people help develop the broad community vision and identify goals for the community or project. They also identify strategies for assisting the community in reaching its goals and fulfilling its vision. Transformational thinking can manifest in a variety of different forms. For example, community planning can be designed with an eye toward making a community healthier.

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Community design itself can encourage improved health and wellness.

A developer engaged in transformational thinking may make plans that are somewhat outside the norm for a community, yet they could improve quality of life for the people there. For example, a hospital in a suburban development could include a medical fitness center. It would not only improve the lives of residents in the area, but also help them feel pride in their neighborhood facility and think of it as a good place to receive treatment.

Transformation Is a Process

Transformation shouldn't be thought of as the moment when a brand new fitness facility is revealed to the public, but as all the steps leading up to it. In other words, transformation that lasts isn't "inflicted" on people, but includes stakeholders from early on. During transformation, much is learned about the community, and the process can be steered accordingly. For example, corporate wellness features in a company comprised mostly of millennials will almost certainly be different from those in a company filled with an older work force.

Transformational Thinking Involves Different Conceptual Models

Think about the biggest disruptions to industries in recent years. The iPhone, for example, didn't just disrupt mobile phones, but also music, cameras, and to some extent computers themselves. Apple doesn't generally take other companies' existing business models and run with them, but develops its own conceptual models, and has experienced great success because of it. Likewise, the community planner interested in transforming a location shouldn't necessarily start with an existing community model, but explore innovative possibilities as well.

Transformation Encourages (but Doesn't Guarantee) Success

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Well-planned, well-executed transformation sets the stage for success.

While the word transformation generally has a positive connotation, transformation in a community or neighborhood doesn't necessarily guarantee success. That's why understanding of local goals, local populations, and population trends is essential throughout the planning process. When it's done with forethought and consideration, transformation can indeed be successful beyond what anyone imagined. But like most things, if the word is simply tossed around and used to justify changes nobody wants, transformation is almost certainly doomed to failure.

Communities Don't have to Disrupt Core Values to Transform Positively

Positive transformation does not mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Understanding core community values helps planners and developers effect changes that keep what's already good about a location while making it better. In other words, transformation does not necessarily require fundamental upheaval, though change is certainly inevitable. Working with a fitness management or corporate wellness company that takes the time to understand the community before creating and implementing designs is the key to successful transformation.

Active Wellness has impressive experience in designing and managing corporate, residential and community wellness programs that take into consideration people's wants and needs and address them. If you're a community planner or developer, we invite you to contact us. Much work goes into transformation, and when you enlist experienced professionals to assist with the process, you won't waste time or money, and will end up with a residential wellness program that will be a real asset to the neighborhood.

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