AMHERST – The problem with planning for the future is no one has asked the people you’re planning it for, believes Michael DeVenney, the founder of The Mindset Project.
It’s something DeVenney is trying to address through his A Younger Perspective, or AYP project. His plan is to ask some of Nova Scotia’s younger and brightest what their vision of the province is.
Using crowdsourcing through social media, DeVenney, who is also founder of The Mindset Project and president of Bluteau DeVenney and Company, wants to gather input from more than 500 people ages 22 to 39 through his website www.themindsetproject.ca.
Participants are asked to fill out a 60-question survey that asks about the type of life they want to lead, what’s important to them, why they want to stay or go and what they see as important to the future of Nova Scotia.
“It’s an age group we never hear too much from, I want to learn what their mindset is,” DeVenney said.
The idea came to him while on sitting on a friend’s deck. Her son had recently graduated from university and she expressed a desire to see him stay in Nova Scotia. “’… but I want it to be because there is a real future for him. I don’t see that,’” DeVenney recounted from the conversation.
DeVenney said he felt there was a lack of a coordinated economic development policy that included the voice of young people that led him to think outside the box. He has done a lot of economic development strategy for government over the years and he decided to do his own.
“I thought who wants to hear a bunch of ideas from a group of 55 and overs because that’s everything we have. Sometimes there’s a token 35-year-old thrown in, but typically these committees and boards put together to determine economic plans are older and primarily male.”
He wanted to reach another group – the 22- to 39-year-olds who he says are missed in the discussions. If they are “going to be the future why shouldn’t they be the authors of that future? It’s a voice that hasn’t been heard and what that we need to take some action around.”
Some of the questions he asks are what do young people like about living and working in Nova Scotia and what do they see as its future.
To date, 328 people have filled out the questionnaire. As well, there’s also a group of surveys partially completed. DeVenney is hoping to have more than 500 responses by Nov. 22.
The responses he’s received to date are impressive, he said.
“The more people we have completing the survey the better the data. We already have enough data to put together what the common themes and ideas are, but we want more.”
For DeVenney, one thing has come out early in his research. “There is a love of this province … and a desire to preserve and protect was is best” for it.
It’s from these surveys he has put together a group of 25 to come together to lead the project to the next step. There are various articles on the future of economic development from around the world that he wants them to read as well as research to consider. He hopes to pinpoint external and internal issues affecting the province, what assets it has and what the plan will be to put in place.
“We want to put together a plan that’s two pages, not 200,” he said. “It has to be clear, cohesive and actionable so people can take part on their own.”
DeVenney isn’t interested in trying to re-invent the wheel or compete with government or the private sector. He is a supporter of the One Nova Scotia report that was compiled by Ray Ivany and he also supported the work of Engage Nova Scotia.
He feels what he’s doing will build on the work already done, but from the perspective of what he hopes will be the province’s future political and economic leaders – if they can be convinced to stay.
“I want the young people of this province to feel as though their voice has been heard and that they’re taking action to move things forward,” he said. “One of the reasons I did it this way is I did not want to have government, academia or corporate people involved because that’s when you start having agendas and things begin falling apart.”
For more information, or to participate go to: http://www.themindsetproject.ca/ayp-for-ns-questionnaire