Case Study #2: Building the
Cuyahoga River Valley Organization
March 28, 2013
This case focuses on the development of the Cuyahoga River Valley Organization (CRVO) which is charged with caring out the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative (CVI). The initiation of this organization began with an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2000. The article discussed the history, natural beauty, and industry in the Cuyahoga Valley located in northeastern Ohio. The valley is rich in natural resources and allows for access to land and water transportation networks that helped it to be positioned as a center for many of America’s early industries such as Quaker Oats, B.F. Goodrich, and Firestone. Much of this industry that was located in the valley generated toxic waste leaving the Cuyahoga River like a dump. The area is on the mend after the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 but it struggles economically due to the loss of jobs and the movement of the middle class away from the urban areas of the valley to the suburbs.
Because of the value of the natural resources and remaining industry in the Cuyahoga River Valley area, an idea was started by the Cuyahoga Valley County Planning Commission after reading to article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer to create an initiative involving many regional resources to transform and regenerate the valley. This effort is called the Cuyahoga Valley Initiative (CVI). Paul Alsenas, Cuyahoga County Ohio Planning Commission Director, engaged Sally Parker, founder and principle of Currere, a company specializing in organizational strategy and development. Parker’s objective was to engage community leaders, organizations, and industries in discussions to help determine the type of organization needed to take on the CVI.
Parker’s first move was to engage members of the community in dialogue to find out the best way to design the CVI. Through multiple interviews, a design team was established that ultimately determined the appropriate structure of the new organization would consist of a networked system of people and organizations. Since the essential element of the system was coordination, the valley would be comprised of four different networks of organizational capacity working together to in partnership to effect change (Cummings & Worley, 2009, pg. 734). To administer these partnerships, the Cuyahoga River Valley Organization (CRVO) was created. The CRVO would be the administrative oversight for the work of the triad (consisting of government, business, and foundation representatives), the Network Partners (consisting of organizations and individuals committed to enable the work of the valleys transformation), and the valley projects (chosen and awarded to address the most pressing needs of the valley).
Parker’s next task was to form a new entity that would become the CRVO. In reviewing the case and information from other class sources, I believe I would have handled the creation of the CRVO in much the same way the CVI was formed. I would have suggested that the first step would be to create a shared vision because this is considered one of the key elements in most leadership frameworks. After a vision was established, it will be important to establish the core ideology of the organization as this would be the basis for the organizations basic beliefs. Then it would be important to construct a future for the organization that could be envisioned those employed by or associated within the CRVO. The envisioned future would consist of establishing expected outcomes and a desired future state.
Another important initiative at the onset of establishing the CRVO would be to develop political support. This had already been done with the CVI but to establish the CRVO and the entities it was to administer, Parker needs to gain support from key stakeholders and influencers. She...