MDI supports municipal strategic work

There will be significant changes in the role and tasks of the municipalities as social and health services as well as rescue services move to the new welfare regions while labour and economic services, on the other hand, are transferred to the municipalities from the beginning of 2024. These perspectives and other current change factors affecting the operating environment of municipalities are of interest to municipalities.

The changing operating environment and the challenges municipalities face are also reflected in the strategy processes. As part of the strategy work, we have prepared analyses of the current state and operating environment, as well as statistical reviews. This knowledge base helps in setting the goals of the strategy in relation to the current state and anticipated changes. By understanding the current situation, it is possible to assess what is still relevant for the municipality.

During the spring of 2022, we are supporting the strategic work of municipalities and cities, for example, in Heinola, Raahe and Ranua. In addition, since the beginning of 2022, we have been involved in updating the strategies of Hamina and Pornainen and in preparing the vitality programme of Sastamala.

Participation in strategy work in the municipalities is extensive

When updating the strategy, the municipalities want to undertake extensive participation work. Despite the impact of the pandemic and the move to remote working, it has been possible to provide opportunities for counsellors, personnel, residents and other stakeholders to participate in and influence the formulation of the strategy. During the pandemic, it was nevertheless possible to organise, for example, short workshops and council seminars completely remotely. On the other hand, with the help of surveys, residents have also been able to participate in the strategy work with participation being quite robust in the municipalities. For example, Hamina’s municipal survey collected almost 1,000 responses. In these surveys, the residents and other stakeholders have been able to reflect on the strengths of their own home town and to identify targets for future development.

The latest survey – on the city’s goals and objectives – was discussed at the Heinola strategy seminar. The seminar included speeches by MDI’s specialists and discussion of strategy and measures. The groups discussed the four current goals of the strategy and, in addition to these, the ‘wild card’, where even the wildest ideas were allowed to emerge. When working in groups, all participants were able to discuss each goal which ensured that a broad and diverse discussion developed.

The city’s values ​​were also discussed at the Heinola strategy seminar. Values ​​are perceived to guide activities and bring concreteness to decision-making. The importance of interaction also became part of the discussion: without a functioning discussion, decisions cannot be made. The seminar was a success, and council chairwoman Niina Varjo stated in her final address that the seminar was Heinola’s most active council seminar ever. (News from the city of Heinola)

Municipal strategy represents a roadmap for the changes

Population ageing and demographic change, the sustainability of public finances, multi-location, digitalisation and climate change challenge the everyday operation of the municipalities. Future changes and challenges, as well as the themes of wellbeing, vitality and the living environment in general, have been emphasised in municipal strategy discussions. Municipalities want to be ready and able to face the likely changes to their operating environments.

Knowledge management becomes even more important with the changes. It contributes to, among other things, financial and operational planning and monitoring, enhancing services and other vitality tasks. The lack of necessary resources and the large amount of information to be processed are the biggest challenges relating to knowledge management. Competition between municipalities is also accelerating which is why municipalities need extensive and up-to-date information, participatory discussion and transparent decision-making.

Many municipalities are now considering what separates them from other municipalities. The answer to this and other prevailing questions can already be found in the core of the municipality’s operations – the municipal strategy.