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Com Dev Island Part 1

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

At the time of this article, I have personally worked directly with 290 community development departments (some go by various names) in 17 States across the U.S. In every one of these, I performed in-depth business process reviews and helped integrate software into the organizations to help streamline their intake, review, inspections, billing, and other processes. In all but a handful I have had the opportunity to be onsite and embedded with their teams to really study how their organizations run.

In this series, I want to take a look at a common theme among many of these organizations and explore why many departments find themselves on an island within their municipality, the benefits to bridging the gap, and ways to help build a bridge back to other teams.

What Is Com Dev Island

If you work in Community Development and ask yourself "what is Com Dev Island?", congratulations, you may not be on it.

However, many of you will identify quickly with this term. It's a topic I have openly discussed with many of the municipalities I've worked with over the years. It can go by various phrases and can also be found in subtle comments from team members who use terms like "they" and "us" when referring to other teams within the same organization. It not only exists in the public sector but also the private.

It's a place that may have been built by the founders of your community or organization and meticulously maintained over years by those who followed, or it may have been built by teams gradually over time, separating yourself from the mainland one decision after another. Com Dev Island can be built by anyone in the organization, not just Com Dev staff. It could have been the work of a city or village manager, senior leadership, council or commission members, department directors, or the front-office staff. In some cases these islands are built accidentally through logistics, location, or even software.

There are many factors that can contribute to the creation and continuance of Com Dev Island and we will take a look at those in this short series.