Values in Action: MyCompass Planning Labs and Supporting the Good Life

MyCompass Planning Labs

For many years Skills Society has worked hard to be a fertile ground for fresh ideas, and radical innovations to emerge because of our strong values, focus on continuous learning, and the culture of creativity we have built together. A decade ago we set out to explore the following questions:

  1. How might we enhance the engaged citizenship experience of people with disabilities?
  2. How might we help support workers to think differently and see creative possibilities that could launch people they support towards a better quality of life?

What emerged from our explorations was the Citizen Action Lab – a think tank process for discovering innovative ways to connect people with disabilities to meaningful citizenship roles and employment opportunities in community. The Citizen Action Lab is a process that helps unlock creativity in Community Support Workers so they can strengthen their approaches to supporting people with disabilities to uncover and connect with all the things that make life great.

Iteration in Action

Over the years we have refined the think tank process. Most recently, we have tweaked the process to make it compatible with MyCompass, an online case management and planning tool (another one of Skills Society’s social innovations). Just like Citizen Action Labs, MyCompass Labs bring support workers and diverse allies together to generate fresh ideas for meaningful citizenship roles and employment opportunities.

Over the course of one and half hours, a steward takes the group through a series of disciplined creative processes which enable them to first think and dream big and then slowly refine ideas into concrete, achievable goals and tasks that relate to a person’s needs and wishes and can be entered into an individual’s MyCompass plan. Ideas are always checked with people served before being acted upon. The labs spur people to think differently and encourage ‘outside the box’ thinking in 5 life domains that align with the MyCompass Pillars:

  1. Paid Employment
  2. Community Connections
  3. Health and Wellness
  4. Strengthening Relationships
  5. Homelife

Iteration and experimentation are important parts of navigating complexity. They are about placing small bets before big bets and being reflective. With MyCompass Planning Labs, we’ve been intentional about living this process. Ideas that came from leaders at different levels of the organization have been tested, reflected upon, tweaked, and tested again in a cycle of iteration and evolution. As a team of stewards, we’ve been flexible, adaptive, and responsive to what people told us about their experiences with the process. With iteration it’s not about the idea we like the best, it’s about the idea that works the best as demonstrated by its success.

MyCompass Planning Labs & Supporting the Good Life for Todd

Todd is a rad guy who now has his own landscaping business and a passion for vehicles. In 2016, Todd and his supports gathered together to participate in a MyCompass Planning process. This was an opportunity to get creative juices flowing and generate some fresh and meaningful goals that Todd wanted to work towards. During the lab process, everyone took into consideration Todd’s unique gifts and talents, interests, and dreams:

Some of Todd’s Unique Gifts and Talents, Interests, and Dreams

  • “Weedwacking is like meditation”
  • He previously owned a vehicle and loved it – still carries the keys from his previous vehicle around his neck as a momento and considers vehicle ownership to be a part of his identity
  • He loves to drive and has many fond memories driving out to his family’s lake lot and riding dirt bikes
  • He is charismatic and likes to connect with others
  • Belonging and connection is really important

After engaging in a series of disciplined brainstorming activities, Todd and his supports came up with two great ideas for goals:

  1. Help Todd to start a small landscaping business as a source of income
  2. Help Todd save up to purchase a truck

With some new direction around what Todd wanted to do, his supports began to look at ways of assisting him to achieve his goals. Todd went and checked out different tools he might need to start a little landscaping business and thought about how he would get his tools from place to place. Todd got set up with the AISH Administration Program and connected with a subsidy through CRHC to start saving for a truck.

After years of hard work and determination, Todd was recently able to purchase his very own truck! He was very proud of this accomplishment and enjoyed taking some time to show his truck off to his friends, family, and supporters. Getting the truck means a lot for Todd, it gives him pride of ownership but also enhances his ability to grow his business. With a truck he now has a covered box to transport his landscaping tools to and from jobs.

MyCompass Planning Labs brought key people in Todd’s life together to think about his unique gifts and talents, interests, and dreams in new ways – generating two goals that were both meaningful and exciting to Todd and enhanced his quality of life in a way he defined what a good life meant to him. The Mycompass platform enabled Todd and his supports to plan action steps in pursuit of his goal together. It also meant everyone could stay in communication about progress and any tweaks that needed to happen along the way. Through MyCompass Planning Labs and the MyCompass platform Todd was able to remain at the helm of the planning process.

One of Todd’s supports drawing what Todd’s goal of starting a small business could look like during his MyCompass Planning Lab back in 2016. Drawing out the goal is inclusive to those who may not read or write and is also helpful in starting to think through what the goal could look like in action.

Todd standing proudly in front of his new truck

A post from Todd’s MyCompass timeline written by one of his supports sharing something Todd had said related to his goal

This piece was compiled by the MyCompass Lab Stewardship Team and can also be viewed in our 2019 Annual Report.