City of Kitchener Study—Presenting the Enterprise Evolution Concept Paper

Knowledge Hub, Upcoming

April 24, 2024 | Register

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, the City of Kitchener started on a path with REFOCUS to apply the Enterprise Evolution (EE) program for developing a 20-year vision and four-year strategic plan. The challenges posed by increasing complexity due to the polycrisis called for a new approach to strategic management that is more integrative, collective, and adaptive. The project with Kitchener was leveraged as an opportunity to experiment with Systemic Management Innovations, assess their potential to enable the City beyond the scope of traditional strategic planning process and begin building the capabilities needed to support operationalizing new practices. In working with the City, REFOCUS utilized a coproduction approach collaboratively developing the first application of EE in the municipal context.

The Flourishing Enterprise Institute partnered with VERiS, REFOCUS and the City of Kitchener to secure two research grants to study the two phases of their learning and adaptation of strategic management practices. The results of this work and the applied research will be the session’s focus. The presenters will describe the context of Kitchener and factors contributing to their readiness, the specific needs that motivated the utilization of EE, the organizational transformation the City is going through, a brief overview of how EE was applied in the City to generate a mindset shift among leaders and in developing a new type of strategic plan, as well as the experience with the coproduction approach and how it contributed to building specific capabilities and outcomes.


Shifting Mindsets for Managing Complexity: A Municipal Case Study

At the core of this research are the City of Kitchener’s Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) and selected management staff. These administrative City leaders engaged with REFOCUS, a Canadian cooperative non-profit organization, in applying the organizational change approach Enterprise Evolution (EE) to the municipal context, a global first. Enterprise Evolution is a methodology for co-creatively working with organizational leaders to build their system leadership capacity with innovative methods for managing for complexity. (Jones, Riemer, Theriault-Loubier, Spadafore, 2022)


Dr. Riemer is a professor of community psychology and sustainability science at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is the director of the transdisciplinary Viessmann Centre for Engagement and Research in Sustainability (VERiS), with a focus on the intersection of climate change, society, and equity. Dr. Riemer applies community psychology principles, theories, and tools as well as systems and sustainability science to address issues related to sustainability and climate justice. This includes fostering strong cultures of sustainability in organizations, communities, and cities, just sustainable transformations, youth climate justice activism, and responding to the complex challenge of the polycrisis in cities.

Gryphon Theriault-Loubier is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. During the course of their PhD research, Gryph has worked in collaboration with the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI) as well as the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR). Gryph’s PhD research considers systems, design and strategy in complex environments. Contributing to this research interest is Gryph’s 15 years of experience in startups, civic innovation projects, federal investment programs, and multinational portfolio management. Gryph is a longstanding member of Systems Thinking Ontario, the systemic design community, and the Systems Changes Learning Circle.

Manuel Riemer

Gryphon Theriault-Loubier

Coming soon

Session materials will be posted here following the event. C4FE sessions represent community contributions to tools, methods, and thinking on flourishing. These are generously shared by speakers and presenting organisations in support of the planetary movement for flourishing enterprises.

Please reach out to the presenters for more information.

Above: Waterloo Regional Museum, Kitchener, Ontario (Canada). Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash