City of Santa Ana: Connecting a Community Virtually

How the City of Santa Ana and OnStrategy facilitated virtual meetings to collect community input on the City’s strategic direction and priorities amid a global pandemic.


“OnStrategy was able to provide more context about what the City is doing today and received great participation from Santa Ana residents to weigh-in on the City’s future efforts.”

– City of Santa Ana City Council

The Challenge:

To virtually engage community members during a growing global pandemic as the means of collecting stakeholder input, at a time when in-person community meetings cannot be held.

The Outcome:

A bold, future forward strategic plan and City-wide direction with stakeholder input from community members.

The Vision:

A clean, safe city with green spaces, a vibrant downtown with a welcoming city center, & development. Attractive opportunities for businesses, diverse residential opportunities, & affordable housing.

This Word Cloud was created by approximately 175 participants in the Facebook Live/Instagram community workshop. Citizens were asked to provide their vision of success for the City answering the question, “By 2025, Santa Ana Is…” These were the most common words provided by the public.

The Approach:

Foundational to the development of City of Santa’s strategic vision and plan was stakeholder input from the entire community. Though these meetings were originally scheduled on-site, OnStrategy and City of Santa Ana adapted through remote sessions to produce the deliverables promised by OnStrategy and essential to bright future envisioned by the community.

  • Council Interviews: OnStrategy’s Chief Strategy Officers conducted one-on-one interviews with City of Santa Ana Council members to obtain a holistic perspective of the organization’s current state.
  • Executive Management Team Survey: Based on our learnings from the executive interviews, our Chief Strategy Officers developed a quantitative online strategy survey to collect input from City leadership staff (EMT) to dig into key considerations to be addressed during the planning process.
  • Virtual Community Sessions: In collaboration with City of Santa Ana’s Executive Management team, OnStrategy’s Chief Strategy Officers structured two 60-minute session (via Zoom, Facebook live and Instagram live) inviting all members of the community to join in on providing recommended actions to achieve the City’s proposed priorities, drafted from Council interviews, EMT survey input, and a prior planning session with the EMT. Community members were invited to provide their input via Poll Everywhere to see their recommendations populated in real time on-screen throughout the session.
  • Community Input Survey: For community members unable to attend either of the virtual community sessions, or those that attended and wanted to add additional input, City of Santa Ana posted a survey link on their community portal to gather insights. Survey participants were asked the same questions as posed in the virtual community sessions.

The Deliverables

Following our virtual facilitations, we built City of Santa Ana’s strategic plan and rollout materials pivotal to the success of City-wide adoption and implementation of the plan. These deliverables included:

  • Organization-Level Objectives with Measures and Performance Targets: Established and prioritized organization-level annual goals. Identified metrics, performance targets and key performance indicators required to support the execution of your organization’s Strategy.
  • Annual Initiatives with Measures and Performance Targets: : Established and prioritized supporting quarterly initiatives in alignment with the annual goals. Identified measurable metrics, performance targets and key performance indicators required to support the execution of Santa Ana’s Plan.
  • 3-Year Milestone Roadmap: Initiated the development of the City’s 3-year Strategy. Established SMART short-term and mid-term goals for measuring performance.
  • Build Organizational Scorecard with KPIs: OnStrategy worked with the team to build a Balanced Corporate Scorecard incorporating best-practice metrics, internal and external performance indicators and measurable performance targets tailored to City of Santa Ana’s strategy and process.
  • Final Strategic Plan: Produced and delivered a final report in digital format for submission to the City. The plan is holistic and ready for implementation.
  • Two-Page Public Communication Document: OnStrategy produced a 2-page summary communication document for internal and community stakeholders broadly communicating City of Santa Ana’s Strategic Plan.

The Results

City of Santa Ana, in spite of a statewide stay-at-home order, created a city wide, visionary plan moving the community towards a visionary future state.

  • Clarity & Focus: Through several community wide, remote planning sessions, the team focused its efforts on the most important and impactful strategies for the future of the City of Santa Ana and its community.
  • Structure: A complete Strategic Plan resulting in strategic objectives, goals and steps to drive and shape the activities over the next 5-year horizon.
  • Purpose: A strategic roadmap laying out the strategy for the City and their team. It clearly communicates individual’s roles and responsibilities and links individual contributions to the larger vision.
  • Engagement: A plan applying the best practices in strategic planning to the entire organization with everyone working in a coordinated effort to produce results. The plan aligns activities with overall strategic objectives.
  • Agility: An agile format for the plan that is referenced for work and decision-making.

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