Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

EOHHS Secretariat-wide Visioning Process Project

Project Summary

EOHHS Visioning 2014:

The development and design of Massachusetts’ ten million square feet of state-owned human-service-agencies capital assets on nearly 10,000 acres are a legacy from the past. Faced by aging facilities, hundreds of vacant buildings, and underutilized land, and prompted by changes in approach and mission regarding capital investment, the Executive Office of Health & Human Services (EOHHS) foresaw a need for a master plan that would articulate a strategic vision for future capital asset investment and related programming. The EOHHS turned to the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) to engage in a visioning process that would provide a comprehensive secretariat-wide analysis as a preliminary stage in the formulation of a Capital Asset Master Plan.

A successful master plan is a consensus document that joins a long-term vision to a plan for its implementation and has broad stakeholder support. Seeking to develop such a plan, in 2009 DCAM called on the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution & Public Collaboration (MOPC) to lend its expertise in consensus building and facilitation to the visioning process. MOPC provided project planning and initiated and led interactive visioning sessions. MOPC then worked with DCAM and EOHHS, six individual property-owning EOHHS agencies, and the visioning group to build consensus and dialogue among stakeholders about an eventual strategic master plan.

MOPC activities included project planning in consultation with the EOHHS and DCAM staff; interviewing stakeholders to assess potential dynamics, opportunities and difficulties for the visioning discussions; and facilitating sessions and workshops with the aim of eliciting input from all participants. MOPC furthered effective communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution among the participating stakeholders, which yielded a vision statement with goals, objectives and guiding principles that MOPC helped to prepare.

The effectiveness of the visioning process was assessed by MOPC through participant surveys, observations during visioning sessions and planning meetings, and interviews. Analysis of the data revealed that EOHHS and DCAM participants valued MOPC’s efforts at clarifying key issues, minimizing friction, optimizing communication, and preparing meetings. The other stakeholders involved in the process gave high ratings to facilitation services for addressing problems and unexpected developments and for planning meetings and setting agendas.

The success of this visioning project is evident in its outcome – a collaborative vision for the future of EOHHS capital assets that involves transforming “a system of remote institutional settings into a community-based continuum of high-quality care that integrates and supports clients, workers, and families into the wealth of communities in the Commonwealth.”  The identification of guiding principles and clear goals for the implementation of this vision – goals which include forming partnerships with other government institutions and the private and non-profit sectors; making real estate decisions in the service of the highest and best public need; implementing the Community First plan, among others – provide EOHHS with a basis for devising a strategic approach to capital investment that will allow the best use of its assets.

Community First. The Community First Olmstead Plan. Retrieved June 3, 2012, from

Executive Office of Health and Human Services. (June 20, 2012). Strategic master plan: Executive summary (draft).

Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution & Public Collaboration. (May 2009). Process evaluation report – EOHHS interagency visioning sessions. Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM).

Scope of Work: “EOHHS Vision 2014” Comprehensive Planning Project.