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A Quick Start Guide for Action. Deploying Dream It. Do It. for Success and Sustainability.

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a quick start guide for action
A Quick Start Guide for Action

Deploying Dream It. Do It. for Success and Sustainability


Dream !t. Do !t. (DIDI) is managed by The Manufacturing Institute (Institute), the 501 (c) (3) affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). We are pleased to provide this guide to assist new member organizations in implementing the program within their counties, regions, or states. At present, twenty DIDI initiatives are operating throughout the country—all with different approaches and strategies that cater to local needs. This flexibility to address local demographics, economies, and educational systems is a key strength of the program. The DIDI program provides a national brand, infrastructure, support, messaging, and research to the broader roles and initiatives of each site, whether DIDI is used as a career awareness strategy, a platform for manufacturing education reform, or a driver of regional economic development.

In light of variation among deployment models, the Institute has identified common best-practices that will guide you in the process of implementing DIDI in your area. This guide, when used in combination with the Institute’s experience-based consultative services and other assets and resources provided to our members, will enable your organization to successfully and expeditiously move forward on the implementation of its own DIDI initiative. The Institute looks forward to working with you on this exciting, challenging and critically important opportunity.

Dream It. Do It. - Purpose and Vision

As older workers depart the workplace, businesses grow, and required skills advance, manufacturers face significant challenges in finding and attracting skilled and educated quality workers. Contributing to the problem of recruiting and retaining employees is the fact that young people, their parents, and educators often have an outdated, inaccurate perception of modern manufacturing as a career option. The DIDI program aims to reverse this trend by promoting the real image of modern manufacturing: innovation-driven, high-tech, high-skilled, and critical to our economic and national security. The DIDI program focuses on creating awareness among young people of the valuable career opportunities that exist in manufacturing today, and provides referral systems for them to pursue their dreams and ambitions through accessible academic and career pathways. It is designed to help fill local manufacturing workforce needs and to assist in making manufacturing a preferred career option. In the areas around the country where the program is most successful, it serves as a catalyst for positive changes that are occurring in education, training and workforce development systems as well as regional economic development.

getting started
Getting Started

Guiding Principles

The Institute and DIDI Executive Committee members have identified the following guiding principles that have warranted good results across the network of DIDI programs:

  • Partnerships created through this initiative represent its true power. When participating organizations share information, blend resources and think globally about possibilities, regions move forward.
  • Local ownership and involvement are keys to success in all jurisdictions. They promote innovative ideas, approaches and sustainability.
  • Ready, aim, fire. Development of program information, infrastructure and preliminary plans in advance of promoting the initiative to a broader public is important.
  • Implementation of DIDI is a process, not an event. Focus on developing a solid core of activities that can be built on over time as the program matures. Successful initiatives are continually adding new program dimensions.
  • Sustainability of the program over time is a key issue. As plans are put into place, available resources and fundraising strategies must be considered to promote development of a lasting program.
pathways to success

Identify a small consortium of area leaders who are committed to a pro-manufacturing and related business agenda and are willing to champion the effort.

  • They should be capable of rallying others to support the campaign programmatically and financially.
  • Garner the active participation and support of key area manufacturers and business leaders on the front end of the initiative. These manufacturers can cut across state borders.
  • Consider including leaders from a variety of other areas such as education, economic development, workforce development, and the political arena along with other business and trade organizations.
  • To the extent possible, let the private sector drive the initiative.
  • 2. Define and describe the scope of the region encompassed by your DIDI initiative.
  • Complete a demographic profile of the region (e.g., area description and map, current population, projected population growth, civilian labor force, unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, average weekly wage for manufacturing vs. all other sectors, educational attainment).
  • Complete a regional manufacturing analysis (e.g., number and type of manufacturing companies and jobs, largest manufacturers, innovative manufacturers, employment trends, skills gaps, training needs, capacity of the region to train workers).
  • Much of this information may be readily available at little or no cost through various sources including regional and state workforce offices, planning and development districts, regional and state economic development offices and state institutions of higher learning.
  • 3. Produce an Asset Map
  • Take inventory of existing recruitment and engagement strategies that can be leveraged or accelerated to support implementation.
  • Take inventory of existing partnerships that may support the rollout of Dream It. Do It.
  • Outline the region’s or state’s connections with national organizations that can provide guidance and support.
  • Research the foundation, government, or private funding landscape of your region or state to determine channels to pursue fiscal support.
Pathways To Success
pathways to success1

4. Address organization and management considerations.

  • Confirm the organization that will serve as fiscal agent and legal entity for the initiative.
  • Determine the most effective and efficient option for staffing, office facilities and equipment. In most instances, a dedicated experienced professional with limited clerical support is needed to successfully launch a program. The program director can be regular paid staff, a qualified contractor or consultant, or a loaned executive. Recruit this individual early in the process.
  • Establish a preliminary budget estimate for start up of the initiative.
  • Raise initial seed capital to begin program activities.
  • Secure your Web URL.
  • Consider forming a 501(c)(3) or affiliating with a willing partner organization to enable receipt of charitable contributions.
  • 5. Develop your strategic plan.
  • Broadly define your program’s vision, goals, and metrics.
  • This description should be short, to the point and define the broad objectives of the project. A more detailed program of work will be developed later by your regional partnership based on the parameters set here.
  • Develop an executive brief that can be used as a marketing document containing summary information gathered in steps 1-5 of this Guide to assist in recruiting additional stakeholders.
  • Consider potential target groups and uses for your funds.
  • Determine whether your program will serve the entire region or be implemented on a more limited pilot basis at first.
  • Adopt a general timeline for completing your program of work.
  • 6. Consider holding a “soft launch” to announce program to key stakeholders.
  • A “soft launch” can be used as a marketing tool to generate interest in and raise the visibility of the program.
  • Consider sending out a press release to local media that positions the program as a solution to economic and workforce development challenges, as well as a call to action to support manufacturing competitiveness.
Pathways to Success
pathways to success2

7. Form a dynamic, broad based regional partnership.

  • Determine your working committee structure, responsibilities, leadership and membership. There are essentially two sides of the equation that must be dealt with in establishing the structure that will work best for your region - program development and implementation, and fundraising. Some regions have taken a straight forward approach and formed one or two committees to address these broad areas. In certain instances they have also formed subcommittees to address major topics such as a communications strategy. Other regions have established an expanded committee structure with an overall steering committee. In considering the structure that will work best in your locale, remember that more committees may lead to more process as well as logistical and communications issues.
  • Carefully consider and recruit leaders to guide these areas. Emphasis should be placed on recruiting committee leadership from the private sector.
  • Identify and recruit partner organizations and individuals including manufacturers, education, economic development, workforce development and political leaders along with other business and trade organizations (for example, manufacturers associations, financial institutions, ad agencies, area chambers of commerce and others). Approach manufacturers first to determine their interest and willingness to participate with the program. Personal visits to leading manufacturers and key partner organizations will pay significant future dividends.
  • 8. Conduct a partnership meeting to kick off your program and engage and motivate your partners.
  • Consider inviting respected leader(s) from your region or state’s public and private sector to key note the event. Institute leadership will be present to extend a national welcome and endorsement to the region on request.
  • Determine if media should be present and, if so, prepare a media kit with targeted messaging for distribution to them at the event.
  • Pre-assign partners to specific committees in advance of the kick off meeting.
  • Make sure that all partners begin with a common knowledge base. Provide an overview of DIDI, your region’s program, broad goals, timeframe, progress to date and committee structure and leadership.
  • Break out into individual committee meetings. Review committee goals and actions to be performed, timeframe for completion of work, and set future meeting dates. As time permits, begin deliberations and input gathering.
Pathways to Success
pathways to success3

Stress the value you place on your partners’ time, set expectations for the number of meetings that will be required, and emphasize the importance of their consistent participation.

  • 9. Based on input received in steps 1-7, develop and implement your detailed program of work.
  • This should be done based on input received through your partnership committee process, a review of Institute resources, and information acquired on best practices of other DIDI initiatives around the country. Remember that this is a beginning, not an end, to program development. You are attempting to lay a solid foundation for the program that will evolve and become stronger over time.
  • Key elements of your program of work should include 1) actions you will take to interest and inform your target population(s) (and those who influence them) about advanced manufacturing career opportunities; 2) how your program will work to support and enhance systems for connecting people with information, education, training and job opportunities in advanced manufacturing; 3) a fundraising and sustainability strategy; 4) a communications plan to support items one thru three; 5) a deployment strategy and timeline; 6) a budget to support the program; and 7) a method for measuring and monitoring results.
  • 10. Reevaluate and improve
  • Let your program evolve according to identified metrics of success and changing needs.
  • Use network and national assets and guidance to revise and enrich your program.
Pathways to Success
national support
National Support

All DIDI sites operate under a partnership agreement with the Institute, and an Institute consultant is available to review all aspects of this agreement with your organization. The Institute provides a variety of services and support to its member organizations:

  • Members benefit by being part of a successful national effort that has a collective reach to nearly 100,000 manufacturers. DIDI is a national brand, one that is increasingly recognized as the program grows and more sites participate. DIDI and its regional partners receive recognition through a number of Institute publications, communications, and outreach.
  • You will have access to professionally-developed creative material designs and collateral, grounded in over 10 years and $1 million in research. Collateral materials include brochures, art work, photographs, advertisements, business cards, logos, letterhead, and other marketing templates. These can be customized by your organization to meet the requirements of your local manufacturers and target populations and advance the brand of your own DIDI program.
  • You will be a part of a nationally recognized web site (www.dreamit-doit.com) and have access to consultant services to assist you in establishing a preliminary website presence for your region. A website template, URL, and limited technical assistance is available to expedite the development of your web presence. DIDI also receives significant exposure through the Institute's website.
  • The Executive Committee, comprised of all DIDI member organizations’ leadership, meets twice a year. The Executive Committee meetings provide opportunities to share best practices, challenges and accomplishments on both a formal and informal basis. The Executive Committee also provides input to Institute staff that is used to shape and improve DIDI at the national level.
  • The DIDI network thrives as a highly collaborative learning community that leverages assets and ideas among members to strengthen the program as a whole. Innovative program ideas, tools and creative materials developed by other member regions are made available to the entire network via the DIDI website.
  • There is accompanying research, organizational, and communications templates and guides that can be used in conjunction with this Quick Start Guide to facilitate the rollout of your DIDI program.