2017 MAP3 retreat

On October 30 and 31, 2017, 35 Library staff members - representing all levels and departments across the Library - gathered to explore our history, learn about our strategic plans, discuss proposals and help 'MAP' out our future.

The event was markedly different from the first multi-annual planning and prioritization process (MAP3) retreat in 2015. Over the past 2 years, a working group has been tasked with examining the MAP3 process, collecting feedback from staff, and designing a new cycle of regular check-ins and re-prioritization:

2017 MAP3 cycle timeline graphic

Two-year MAP3 cycle. Graphic by Rose Koebel.

Once again facilitated by the feisty Jo Nelson, the retreat looked a little something like this...

Day 1


Doodle of the day, by Courtney Bremer.

After some unconventional introductions, the day began by putting it all in context, with a presentation by Allan Starr, Associate Provost for Institutional Data, Analysis, and Planning (IAP) on the University's strategic plan.

Beth Namachchivaya then tied it all in to the Library's strategic directions:

Strategic context graphic

How the Library's Strategic Directions support University of Waterloo's eight strategic themes. Graphic by Sara Perkins.

The group then looked back on the last five years of the Library, the University, the academic community, and the global community to identify significant events, impacts and trends.
After laying out this journey wall, we defined and labelled the chapters of those years: The group saw how we grew from an eager caterpillar biting off more than it could chew, to an introspective chrysalis doing more planning and prioritizing, to a butterfly about ready to take flight under the wings of new leadership. Someone suggested it was also like weaving together many different threads, to form a fabric - to which Dave Gall called out 'WaterLoom' ...and we laughed and laughed.

journey wall 1 of 3

journey wall 2 of 3

journey wall 3 of 3


Our journey, or 'Metamorphosis,' over the past five years. Photos by Melanie Hannaford.

The retreat was then visited by the proposal writers, who gave lightening talks on all 24 MAP3 proposals, giving retreat participants the opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of the initiatives.

After a group discussion on what our prioritization criteria would be, we discussed and analyzed a proposal as a group, to prepare for the next day.

Day 2


Doodle of the day, by Courtney Bremer.

I don't know what was scarier...the fact that it was Halloween or the task that lay ahead.

We got right down to it first thing in the morning. Working in small groups of five or six people, we each tackled four to five proposals - with two groups analyzing each proposal. Proposals were identified as High, Medium, Low or Rethink, including notes explaining each recommendation.

The discussions were lively!


group discussion with hands in the air

table surrounded by people

table of people talking


Getting into it: discussing and analyzing the proposals. Photos by Mary Lynne Bartlett.

Groups were, for the most part, on the same page about each proposal. After pinning the verdicts up on the wall for all to see, the group as a whole set about prioritizing each one.

group looking at board with note paper

The colourful P#2 in MAP3 = prioritization. Photo by Sara Perkins.

The retreat ended the way it began - with reflection. We reflected on what had just happened, what we thought of the process, and what we would take away from it all.

I learned more about the Library.

Overwhelmingly, the common sentiment of participants was that they learned more about the Library. This was expressed by everyone from co-op students to long-time staff to managers. We learned more about the Library's strategic role within the University, about our history, and about the work done by our colleagues in the many and varied departments. You can learn more about MAP3 by speaking with your manager or contacting the MAP3 Team.

Most of all, we learned more about what our future might look like - framed by the resulting approved proposals - and it looks like it's going to be an exciting one!

Group photo with jazz hands

Retreat participants, excited about our future (and to be done the retreat)! Photo from Beth Namachchivaya.