The VSP: An Intentional Approach to Successful and Sustainable Initiatives

The team at the Centre for Initiatives on Children, Youth and Community (CICYC) at Carleton University has been working collaboratively with community groups, organizations and private sector industries for the past five years to implement the VSP Approach that is focused on successful and sustainable initiatives. The VSP Approach has evolved from the VSP Tool – a planning and diagnostic resources that was based on a series of in-depth case studies conducted in Canadian communities1. Through this research, we learned how some communities successfully sustained their local initiatives and gained valuable insights into the factors that contributed to their success. After applying the VSP Tool in various initiatives, it has evolved into a more holistic and intentional approach that can be applied in different contexts.

One of the lessons learned from applying the VSP Tool is that working collaboratively can be very beneficial in supporting collective action. Whether this is within an individual organization or whether it involves a broader coalition of stakeholders, collaboration requires those involved to learn and adopt to a new way of thinking, talking and acting to help them achieve their collective goals. The use of the VSP Tool expanded in the process beyond its original use as a planning and diagnostic resource to become a broad framework that people can use to guide their collective actions. The VSP approach focuses attention on the key elements of successful and sustainable initiatives, namely, the values we share and the visions we develop, the structures we put in place to help organize our activities and the processes we create to help us achieve our goals and objectives. The evolution of the VSP Tool into a dynamic and holistic framework has included the addition of key concepts and ideas drawn from other useful resources. Taken together, the VSP Approach and the adoption of specific tools provides a comprehensive, systematic, disciplined and intentional approach to sustainability.

1 Caputo, Tullio. Kelly, Katharine Kelly. (2001). Discussion Paper on the Sustainability of Social Development Activities in Canada: Some Implications For Crime Prevention Ottawa: prepared by JHG Consulting under contract to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Department of Justice Canada.