USDA
oEPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
WORKSHOP IN A BOX:
Sustainable Management of Rural and
Small Systems Workshops
2013


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Sponsoring Organizations
USDA
vvEPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
In 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to jointly support a series of activities to
help small and rural water and wastewater systems address challenges they face and more effectively
provide sustainable services to the communities they support. Through this MOA, EPA and USDA have
sponsored the development of this Workshop in a Box material.
Partners and Contributors
Special thanks to the Georgia Rural Water Association, the Michigan Rural Water Association, the Rural
Community Assistance Corporation, and the United South & Eastern Tribes. These organizations individually
partnered with EPA and USDA to host the four pilot workshops upon which the content of this Workshop in a
Box is based.
liCAP
RCAC
www.rcac.org
NR
WA
33

MRWA v ^ Michigan Rural
i Water Association
Workshop in a Box: Sustainable Management of Rural and Small Systems Workshops

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Table of Contents
Introduction																																					...1
Purpose and Background	1
Organization & Supplementary Materials	2
Checklist: What You Will Need for a Successful Workshop,,.																			,,4
Determining What Type of Workshop You will Host																					.......5
Multi System Workshop	5
Team Exercise Workshop	6
Workshop Preparation Timeline	7
Creating an Agenda[[[																	...9
Promoting the Workshop	14
Managing Registration	15
Preparing Materials	16
Executing the Workshop	17
Post-Workshop Follow-Up																					.25

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INTRODUCTION
Purpose and Background
The Workshop in a Box materials, developed collaboratively between the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), support small and rural water and
wastewater systems in addressing their ongoing challenges to improve management practices and deliver the best
quality service to their communities. These materials are intended to help rural and small systems and communities
to conduct workshops, either within an individual system or together with a group of systems, based on the Rural
and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management (Guidebook) - a resource that is included in this
Workshop in a Box kit. The Guidebook, also a joint product of EPA and USDA, provides background information on
ten key management areas for sustainable utilities, as well as instruction and assistance on how to conduct the
utility assessment process that is used in the workshops and begin developing an action plan for improving utility
management based on the assessment.
The intended audience for these materials is rural and small systems managers who are looking to improve their
overall management performance, as well as associations and other service providers that support rural and small
systems through education and training. Using the Workshop in a Box materials, these entities will be able to guide
Workshop participants through a self assessment of their system and identify areas for improvement that are
critical to success at their utility. The self assessment will help them to prioritize actions when resources are limited.
To inform development of the Workshop in a Box and the Guidebook, EPA and USDA hosted a series of four, day-
long, pilot workshops in collaboration with local sponsors dedicated to rural and small water and wastewater utility
management. The workshops were held in Acme, Michigan in cooperation with the Michigan Rural Water
Association, Santa Cruz, California in cooperation with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, Helena,
Georgia with the Georgia Rural Water Association, and in Nashville, Tennessee with the United South and Eastern
Tribes. Attendees from over 60 rural and small systems, ranging in size from 200 to 3,000 connections, participated
in these workshops. As each workshop was executed, the content for the next workshop was improved through
feedback and lessons learned, so that the workshops could better serve their audiences.
The aim of both the Guidebook and the Workshop in a Box is to support rural and small water and wastewater
utilities in their common mission to become more successful and resilient service providers. By making
improvements in any of the ten key management areas through methods outlined in the Workshop in a Box and the
Guidebook, systems will be able to deliver increasingly efficient, higher quality services. The specific improvement
actions and the pace at which these improvements are made will be unique to each utility, based on its assessment
and the steps outlined by the utility in its System Management Improvement Plan, which is described later in this
document.
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Organization & Supplementary Materials
The information in this Workshop in a Box is organized in the order in which a workshop would be executed. It
begins in the planning stages, moves through the steps of preparation, describes the workshop itself, and concludes
with post-workshop follow-up activities. Supplementary materials are also included as attachments to the main
guidance document. These materials are everything needed to conduct the workshop, from promotional brochures
and informational emails to presentation slides and worksheets. Many of the materials are presented as 'templates'
that the user can customize with specific event dates and other information. The supplementary materials included
in the Workshop in a Box kit are described on the following page.
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r A ^
Supplementary Materials:
Templates:
Templates are meant to be customized by the user to add event-specific information (such as dates,
times, locations, speaker names, etc.). Areas for the user to add information are highlighted in blue
Template la: Multi System Workshop Agenda
Template lb: Team Exercise Workshop Agenda
Template 2a: Promotional Emaii for Multi System Workshop
Template 2b: Promotional Email for Team Exercise Workshop
Template 3: Promotional Brochure
Template 4: Sign-in Sheet for Multi System Workshop
Template 5: Feedback Form
Documents:
Documents are materials that are not meant to be modified by the user. These contain specific
information that has been developed over time by subject matter experts.
Document la: Workshop Slides for Multi System Workshop
Document lb: Workshop Slides for Team Exercise Workshop
Document 2: Self Assessment Worksheet
Document 3: Improving Outcomes Worksheet
Document 4a: Resources Guide for Rural and Small Systems (Electronic spreadsheet)
Document 4b: Resources Guide for Rural and Small Systems (Table for printing)
Document 5: System Management Improvement Plan Worksheet
Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management
V	 	J
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CHECKLIST: WHAT YOU WILL NEED
FOR A SUCCESSFUL WORKSHOP
SAgenda
S Facilitator
S Promotional Materials
S Registration and Sign-in Materials
S Presentation Slides and Talking Points
S Flip Chart and Projector
S Handouts:
S Self Assessment Worksheet
SImprovements Worksheet
S Resources Guide for Rural and Small Systems
SImprovement Plan Worksheet
S Workshop Evaluation Form
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DETERMINING WHAT TYPE OF
WORKSHOP YOU WILL HOST
There are two main types of workshops that this Workshop in a Box is designed to support: a Multi System
Workshop, and a Team Exercise Workshop. The workshop format that you choose will dictate how the workshop
will be run.
Multi System Workshop	Team Exercise Workshop
Organizer
Association, organization, or state
Individual utility management (water or
wastewater)


Participants directly associated with the
Attendees
Participants from multiple utilities (water or
utility (potentially including utility staff,
wastewater)
board members, or community
stakeholders)


 Educate staff and stakeholders about the

 Introduce utilities to the ten management
ten management areas
Objectives
areas
 Set improvement priorities based on the
 Equip them to use the self assessment
self-assessment exercise

exercise with their utility
 Communicate improvement priorities to
staff and stakeholders
Facilitator
An association/organization staff member
or a third-party facilitator
A utility team leader or a third-party
facilitator
Multi System Workshop
A Multi System Workshop is a workshop typically sponsored and run by an association or organization that lends
assistance to utilities. In this format, the sponsor would invite workshop attendees from several different utilities to
participate in a group learning exercise.
The target audience for a Multi System Workshop is staff members who have management responsibilities at their
utilities. For very rural and small systems, this may be a manager/operator, and for somewhat larger systems, this
may be an executive director. At minimum, a utility participating in this workshop should send staff with cross-
operational management responsibilities, but may also choose to send additional staff (such as a certified operator)
to participate. Utilities may also choose to have a board member or city manager accompany the participating
manager.
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The objective of a Multi System Workshop is to introduce participating utilities to the ten management areas, and
equip them to utilize the self assessment exercise on their own. Often, the participants in a Multi System Workshop
would use the information that they learned at the event to hold a Team Exercise Workshop at their own facility.
However, participation in a Multi System Workshop is not a prerequisite for holding a Team Exercise Workshop.
Team Exercise Workshop
A Team Exercise Workshop is a workshop that is held within an individual system as an educational and strategic
priority-setting exercise.
There are two possible audiences for Team Exercise Workshops:
1.	Only internal staff members of the utility
2.	Utility staff and some combination of board members and/or other community stakeholders
The target audience of a Team Exercise Workshop is a mix of staff members (and in some cases, board members
and community stakeholders) who make up a "cross-functional" team. A cross functional team would represent the
range of roles that exist at the utility, and may include members from engineering, operations, accounting/finance,
customer service, and maintenance. Many rural and small systems do not necessarily have specific departments for
each of these functions, so the meeting organizer should do his/her best to have as many of these roles
represented as possible, based on the capacity of the individual utility.
If board members and/or community stakeholders are to be included, the meeting organizer should consider
carefully who to invite (Who will add valuable content to the discussion? Who needs to understand the utility's
priorities and challenges?). Possible participants may include board members, a city manager (or similar position),
town council members, or citizens and neighborhood group representatives.
The objective of a Team Exercise Workshop is to educate utility staff and stakeholders about the ten management
areas, to use the self assessment exercise to identify priority areas for performance improvement, and to
communicate the priority-setting results to the board and community members. Typically this workshop would be
organized and facilitated by a team leader. The team leader would be designated to convene the workshop, make
the required presentations, and manage discussions among participants, while also directly participating in the
discussions. In this way, the team leader is both a facilitator and a direct participant in the workshop.
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WORKSHOP PREPARATION
TIMELINE
Multi System Workshop
Identify date, time, location, and facilitator
Secure sponsors, if applicable
identify participants to invite
Prepare meeting materials - Refer to page 16
Send out a final reminder to all registrants
Identify guest speaker(s), if applicable
Finalize agenda - Refer to pages 9-10 in this document
Create and distribute promotional materials - Refer to page 14
Close registration and create a final list of all registrants - Refer to page lb
Send out a reminder to all registrants
1 Visit workshop location and set up room - Refer to page 17

\
 Execute workshop - Refer to pages 17-23



Conduct post-workshop follow-up activities - Refer to page 25
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Team Exercise Workshop
Identify date, time, location, and facilitator
Identify staff members (and board members or other stakeholders, if
applicable) who should attend
Create and distribute invitations and information - Refer to page 14
Finalize agenda - Refer to pages 11-12
Send out a reminder to participating staff members to RSVP
Create a final list of all participating staff members
Send a reminder to participating staff members
Prepare meeting materials - Refer to page 16
Set up the room that will be used for the workshop - Refer to page 17
Send out a final reminder to all participating staff members


 Execute workshop - Refer to pages 17-24

1
J
Conduct post-workshop follow-up activities - Refer to page 25
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CREATING AN AGENDA

S Use the sample agenda on the following pages as a guideline
for your agenda. Your agenda should use the same sessions as
the sample agenda, but may have slightly different time
allotments, depending on the number of attendees. The
sample agenda is built for approximately 25 attendees - add
more time for more attendees, and subtract time for fewer
attendees.
S Identify roles - Who will facilitate the meeting?
S Find a location - where will the workshop take place?
HELPFUL HINT: Consider holding your workshop either as a
stand-alone event, or the day before a larger event (like a conference or regional workshop).
f	 	\
Materials for this section
included in your Workshop
in a Box kit are:
Templates la&b: Workshop Agenda
Sample Agenda - Multi System Workshop
8:30
Sign-in/Registration
9:00
Introductions and Workshop Objectives
9:15
Session 1: Overview of Key Management Areas - Presentation


Presentation of Key Management Areas


Group Discussion: Other Important Management Areas for Sustainability
9:45
Session 2: Utility'Self Assessment7 Exercise


Explain "Sustainable Management Self Assessment" (5 minutes)


Participants Conduct Self Assessment (25 minutes)


o Rate utility achievements and rank management priorities


o Plot results: achievements vs. priorities


Table Discussion Among Participants About Results (25 minutes)


o Where is your utility strong? Why?


o Where is there the most room for improvement? Why?


o What are your areas of focus?


 Why are they a priority?


 Why is performance low?


 Technical capacity?


 Financial capacity?


 Managerial capacity?


-Continued on following page-
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9:45	Session 2 - Continued
o What are the commonalities and differences among table participants'
achievements, priorities, and challenges?
10:40	Break
10:45	Session 3: Plenary Discussion - Self Assessment Results
	Tables Report Results of Assessment (30 minutes)
	Synthesize Results (30 minutes)
11:45	Working Lunch (Optional)
12:45	Session 4: Table Exercise - Improving Outcomes
	Each table completes an improvement worksheet for one low achievement/high
priority management area.
	Discussion Questions:
o	What will constitute "high achievement" in this management area?
o	What changes will the utility need to make to improve performance?
o	How could you track your performance progress?
o	What will be the biggest challenges to performance improvement?
1:30	Session 5a: Plenary Discussion - Practices, Tools, and Measures: Results
	Tables Report Findings
	General Discussion of Findings
2:00	Break
2:15	Session 5b: Plenary Discussion - Practices: Results
	Synthesis of Table Discussion Results
	Local Assistance Available in Key Management Areas
	Presentation of Additional Tips, Tools, and Measurement (prepared before the
workshop during the "Prepare Meeting Materials" phase)
	Reflections: Key Lessons Learned and Near Term Steps
	Discuss System Management Improvement Plan
3:30	Session 6: Feedback Session
	Participants Complete Workshop Evaluation Form
o Are these the right management areas, and how to improve?
o Is self assessment useful, and how to improve?
o Are tools and tips useful, and how to improve?
o Are measures useful, and how to improve?
o Overall rating of format, flow, presenters, etc
	Collect Evaluation Forms
4:00	Adjourn
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Sample Agenda - Team Exercise Workshop
9:30	Introductions and Team Objectives
9:45	Session 1: Overview of Key Management Areas - Presentation
	Presentation of Key Management Areas
	Group Discussion: Other Important Management Areas for Sustainability
10:20 Break
10:30	Session 2: Utility 'Self Assessment' Exercise
	Team Leader explains "Sustainable Management Self Assessment" (5 minutes)
	Team Members Conduct Assessment (25 minutes)
o Rate utility achievements and rank by priority
o Plot results: achievements vs. priorities
	Compile and Synthesize Team Member Assessments-Team Leader
	Discussion Among Team Members (1 hour)
o Where are there commonalities and differences among team members'
assessments? Why?
o Where is our utility strong? Why?
o Where is there the most room for improvement? Why?
o What should be our areas of focus?
 Why are they a priority?
* Why is performance low?
	Technical capacity?
	Financial capacity?
	Managerial capacity?
12:00	Working Lunch (Optional)
1:00	Session 3: Improving Outcomes
	Break the team into groups of 2 to 3. Each group completes an improvement
worksheet for a different low achievement/high priority management area.
	Team Member Questions:
o What will constitute "high achievement" in this management area?
o What changes will we need to make to improve performance?
o How could we track performance progress?
o What will be our biggest challenges to performance improvement?
	Team members report findings
	Full team discussion - refine and synthesize findings
2:00	Break
-Continued on following page-
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2:15	Session 4: Resources and Additional Improvement Ideas
	Presentation of Additional Tips, Tools, and Measurement-Team Leader
	Team Reflections: further ideas for improving performance and resources of interest
3:15	Session 5: Action Plan
	Select management areas for focused, near-term attention
	Make assignments for management area leads to prepare plan and identify
improvement resources
	Assign time frames for completion of next steps
3:45	Adjourn
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The 'Working Lunch'
In addition to providing an extra opportunity to add content to the workshop, working lunches can help to keep
participants nearby (to ensure that you don't lose anyone who goes off-site for lunch), and to keep the momentum
going (to reduce the likelihood of a post-lunch 'slump' in energy). If you choose to utilize a 'working lunch' format
for your workshop, there are three main options for how to fill the time, which are described below.
Networking Time
By having the participants remain in the room, they can often benefit greatly from visiting with each other about
utility operational issues, either related to the workshop content or separate from the workshop. This is especially
useful for Multi System Workshops, where attendees from different systems can trade tips and learn from the
experiences of others.
Working Time
In the event that workshop participants are engaging in in-depth discussions, it is useful to have time set aside at
lunch to expand on topics in a less formal setting. This is especially valuable for the self assessment exercise, which
can be as deep of a discussion as you allow it to be - by adding extra time to your agenda for this or other
discussions, you will allow participants to get to the "meat" of the issues.
Guest Speakers
Having guest speakers, such as local sponsors, present at lunch provides an opportunity for the sponsors to connect
their services directly to management areas of interest that utility participants had identified during the self
assessment exercise. Alternatively, presentations by utility managers on their successes and challenges can also
help to ground the management area improvement discussions in the workshop in the practical context of local,
peer utilities, lending substantial credibility and a stronger sense of accessibility to performance improvements.
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PROMOTING THE WORKSHOP
Multi System Workshop
A
S Send a promotional email or letter to your intended audience
Materials for this section
included in your Workshop
and other relevant networks two months before the
workshop. The message should include:
o Time, date, and location of the workshop
o Information about the sponsoring organization (who
in a Box kit are:
Templates 2a&b: Promotional
Email
is hosting the event?)
o Information about the purpose of the workshop
Template 3: Promotional Brochure
(what can participants expect to get out of it?)
o Workshop agenda
J
o Instructions on how to register for the event	Y
o Instructions about what to bring (relevant materials, lunch, etc.)
HELPFUL HINT: If you have a meeting planning committee or team, consider having each member
identify potential participants, and then have each member be responsible for reaching out individually
to the participants who they identified.
J Distribute brochures or any other promotional materials you have developed.
S Track registration in advance of the meeting and send reminders to registered participants.
S Announce the workshop to your staff, either at an all-staff meeting or by email/letter, at least two weeks in
advance of the event. Announce the workshop by email/letter to invited stakeholders. Include information
about:
o Who should plan to attend - all staff members/stakeholder groups, or only specific ones?
o Time, date, and location of the workshop
o Information about the purpose of the workshop (what you hope to accomplish)
o Workshop agenda
o Instructions on how to register for the event
o Instructions about what to bring (relevant materials, lunch, etc.)
S Distribute promotional materials to intended participants
S Send reminders to participants one week in advance, and then again the day before the workshop
Team Exercise Workshop
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MANAGING REGISTRATION
It is a good idea to collect registration information in advance so that you know how many people will attend, which
helps to plan for room capacity, create sign-in sheets, print the right number of meeting materials, and anticipate
refreshments needs (if you will be providing them). Pre-registration also allows you to have contact information for
attendees to use for sending out meeting reminders and other meeting information.
Multi System Workshop
At minimum, you should collect the participant's name, organization, and email. You may want to consider
organizing it in a table or spreadsheet (see example below). Other optional information you may want to collect can
include: phone number, address, or dietary preferences (if you plan to have food at the event). There are many
ways to collect registration information, depending on your organization's technical capabilities, including:
o Collecting registration by email
q Creating a registration website
o Posting sign-up sheets or a registration phone number at central community locations
Sample Registration Tracking Table
Last Name
First Name
Organization
Email
Anderson
Mary
Village Loop Water
manderson@villageloop.com
Johnson
Mike
Lost Lake Sewer District
Mike.johnson@llsd.com
Smith
Joe
City Public Utilities
joesmith@city.gov
Team Exercise Workshop
When hosting a workshop at your own utility, it is still important to track who will be attending the event to ensure
that you will have the right mix of people (appropriate staff members, and board/community members if you plan
to invite them). Creating a simple internal RSVP list is an easy way to track this (see example below).
Sample RSVP List
Last Name
First Name
Representing
RSVP - Yes/No?
Anderson
Mary
Staff (financials)
Yes
Johnson
Mike
Board Member
No
Martin
Amy
Stakeholder (Citizens for Clean Water)
Yes
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PREPARING MATERIALS
One of the last steps in preparing for your meeting is to
finalize the meeting materials, which can be adapted from
the resources provided in your Workshop in a Box packet.
Materials should be printed for all attendees to allow
everyone to follow along easily. The materials you will need
include:
Agenda Make sure to add the following information
to the agenda template before printing:
S Start and end time, date, and location
S Roles (facilitator, speakers)
S Times for each session
Sign-in Sheet(s) and Name Tags
These should be pre-populated with the names that you
gathered during your registration/attendance tracking
process, with extra spaces on the sign-in sheet and blank
tags for day-of registrants/walk-ins.



Printing slides for
Materials for this section included
in your Workshop in a Box kit are;
Templates la&b: Workshop Agenda
Template 4: Sign-in Sheet
Template 5: Feedback Form
Document 1: Workshop Slides
Document 2: Self Assessment Worksheet
Document 3: Improving Outcomes
Worksheet
Document 4b: Resources Guide for Small and
Rural Utilities (Table for printing)
Documents: System Management
Improvement Plan Worksheet
Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to
Sustainable Utility Management
Presentation Slides
participants is optional, but can be useful for note-taking
purposes. At minimum, the slides should be projected and
visible to the whole room, with a printed copy for the
facilitator to speak from. Additionally, a flip chart may be helpful for recording and organizing group discussion.


J
Hand-Outs Each participant will need an individual copy of the Self Assessment Worksheet and the
Improving Outcomes Worksheet. Multi System Workshop participants should receive the Feedback Form (make
sure to adapt the Feedback Form as needed for your specific event to highlight what is important to take away from
the workshop). Team Exercise participants should receive a copy of the System Management Improvement Plan
worksheet.
individual copies of the Resources Guide for Rural and Small Systems should also be provided, especially in the
Multi System Workshop format. Note that there are two versions of the Resources Guide  one that is formatted
for printing (Document 4b), and another more detailed spreadsheet that is formatted for electronic use (Document
4a). Document 4b should be printed and distributed at the meeting, while Document 4a should be sent to
participants electronically after the meeting. Finally, participants should each receive a copy of the Rural and Small
Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management (preferably in hard copy at the workshop, but at least an
electronic copy after the workshop).
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EXECUTING THE WORKSHOP
Room Set-Up
The room should ideally be set up in 'round table' style to allow for interaction among workshop participants. If you
are conducting a Multi System Workshop, it is best to get a variety of participants at each table (e.g., if a utility has
sent more than one representative to the workshop, ask them to sit at different tables - this will help everyone
learn from each other and get the most out of the experience). Multi System Workshop table groups should target
between 6-8 participants per table. If you are holding a Team Exercise Workshop with board members or outside
stakeholders present, you should ask them to spread out and sit at tables with utility staff members. Team Exercise
Workshops are typically comprised of 3-15 participants. For less than 8 participants, all should be seated at the
same table, and for more than 8, break up into two tables.
Sample Room Configuration for Multi System Workshop
Projector Screen |
Flip Chart
Projector
Table
Table
Table
Table
Other items that you will need for the day of the meeting include:
S Projector to display the slides at the front of the room
S Flip chart and markers to record notes during group discussions
S Printed meeting materials for all participants (refer back to the Preparing Materials section for additional
details)
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Outcomes Well Managed Utilities Strive For
im session has two parts:
	A brief presentation on the ten management areas, then
	Group ttwuilion about the relevance and corrpleteness of the Management Areas to ou utikty - any observations indicating paps in
^ Management Areas will be used to implement the self assessment process.
Presentation Tips
& Talking Points
While walking through the workshop sessions and slides, the
facilitator should refer to the talking points and helpful
presentation tips that are included in the slides. These points
were developed and modified based on what worked well (and
what did not work well) during discussions at the pilot
workshops. They can be found in the "Notes" section of the
presentation (see example below).
HELPFUL HINT: Prior to the meeting, the facilitator should
consider going through the slides to identify any areas that may
not make sense to include, or additional points that should be
made.
Materials for this section
included in your Workshop in a
Box kit are:
Documents la&b: Workshop Slides
Document 2: Self Assessment Worksheet
Document 3: Improving Outcomes
Worksheet
Document 4a: Resources Guide for Rural
and Smali Utilities (Electronic spreadsheet)
Document 4b: Resources Guide for Rural
and Small Utilities (Table for printing)
Documents: System Management
Improvement Plan Worksheet
Document 6: Rural arid Small Systems
Guidebook to Sustainable Utility
Management
OVERVIEW OF KEY MANAGEMENT
AREAS
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Introductions & Workshop Objectives
Use slides 1-3 in Workshop Slides
The purpose of this session is for the facilitator to introduce himself/herself, and to have the other participants in
the room introduce themselves to each other. The facilitator will also use this session to thank sponsors (if
applicable), review the printed meeting materials that each participant has in front of him/her, and outline the
meeting schedule and objectives (i.e., what should participants expect the workshop to look like?).
Overview of Key Management Areas (Session 1)
Use slides 4-18 in Workshop Slides and refer to pages 3-5 in the Rural and Small Systems
Guidebook
During this session, the facilitator (or another presenter) will describe the challenges faced by many rural and small
system managers, and the ten key management areas that can help address these challenges. The facilitator will
specify that the management areas are not presented in a specific order, but together, they make up the
framework for a complete and well-rounded management approach. Need and priority will be totally driven by the
individual utility's operating environment. The facilitator will then provide an overview of each of the management
areas, using the slides that have been created to describe each area. This session is primarily for the education of
participants, and will help to inform the discussions throughout the remainder of the workshop.
At the end of the session, the facilitator should take questions from participants to explore the relevance of the
management areas to those in the room (e.g., do these management areas relate to what you are doing?), and to
fiii in any gaps that are left in the management areas (e.g., does another area need to be added for consideration
throughout the rest of the workshop?). Note that a critical aspect of the success of the pilot workshops was the
dialog among participants throughout each session. Participant feedback indicated this was a key aspect of the
workshop learning process, and it is up to the workshop facilitator to stimulate this dialog by asking questions and
prompting all participants to engage in discussion.
Utility 'Self Assessment' Exercise and
Results
Use slides 19-26 in Workshop Slides and the Self Assessment
Worksheet and refer to pages 6-10 and Appendix I in the Rural
and Small Systems Guidebook
The Self Assessment is perhaps the most important session of the workshop.
To begin this session, the facilitator will provide instructions for how the
exercise is to be completed (refer to slides 19-25), and the objectives of the
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exercise. The approach taken for the self assessment exercise differs between the two types of workshops.
Multi System Workshop (Session 2 & Session 3)
For a Multi System Workshop, each individual participant will complete the Self Assessment Worksheet (Document
2) with his/her own utility in mind. Once all participants have completed their worksheets, the table groups will
convene to discuss their results. Table groups should discuss the questions on slide 26 on their own for
approximately 25 minutes (during this time, it helps to assign a 'table captain' to keep the discussion moving and
on-topic). After table groups have discussed the questions, the entire group of workshop participants will
reconvene for the facilitator to lead a discussion about the questions. This discussion will help draw out common
themes from each table. As themes emerge, the facilitator should ask participants how they have dealt with
relevant challenges to help participants learn from each other's experiences, successes, and mistakes.
Team Exercise Workshop (Session 2)
In the context of an individual utility running a Team Exercise Workshop,
the Self Assessment will be more of a full-group exercise. After the team
leader has explained how to complete the worksheet, each meeting
participant will fill out the worksheet on his/her own for approximately 30
minutes. Using a 'master copy' of the worksheet, the team leader will then
compile the results of all worksheets and lead a discussion with the entire
group to reach consensus on worksheet responses (i.e., come to agreement
on where the utility's improvement efforts should be focused based on the
worksheet results). Based on the compiled responses, this group discussion
should be guided by (but not limited to) the questions found on slide 26. At
the end of the session, the group should be able to answer the question,
"What are our priority areas to focus on as we move forward?" (Try to limit
this to no more than three management areas to begin with.)
Improving Outcomes
IMPROVEMENTS WORKSHEE
Use slides 27-28 in Workshop Slides and the Improving Outcomes
Worksheet and refer to pages 11-19 in the Rural and Small
Systems Guidebook
The purpose of this session is to build on the results of the Self Assessment
Worksheet exercise and focus on how to improve outcomes in the key
management areas that were identified as highest priority and lowest areas of
achievement (i.e., the management areas that were in the yellow or red boxes
in the plotting exercise). Participants should aim to answer all of the
worksheet questions, but focus initially on the bolded ones, and address the
others as time allows.
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Multi System Workshop (Session 4)
In the Multi System Workshop context, each table will be assigned a different management area to focus on as they
fill out the worksheet. These management areas should be chosen based on the Self Assessment results (which
areas were the most common for needing improvement among table participants?). Each table group will address
the questions on slide 28 (which correspond with the bolded questions in the "Improvements Worksheet") for their
respective management area. As the table group discusses as a whole, each participant should be recording notes
about answers to the questions on his/her worksheet.
Team Exercise Workshop (Session 3)
For a Team Exercise Workshop, the management areas that were identified as priorities in the Self Assessment
discussion should be assigned to groups of 2-3 members (or more, depending on your team size). Each group
should spend approximately 75 minutes addressing the questions on slide 28 for their respective management
areas. After the groups have answered the questions, the team leader should bring everyone back together to hold
a full team discussion. During this discussion, each group should report out about what they discussed, and other
team members should be given the chance to weigh in on the areas that they did not participate in.
Multi System Workshop only: Practices, Tools, and Measures
Results (Session 5)
Use slides 28-41 in Workshop Slides, the Resources Guide, and refer to Appendix III in the
Rural and Small Systems Guidebook
Session 5a: To build on the discussions in Session 4 about improving outcomes, the facilitator should ask each
table group to share their responses to the questions on slide 28. After each table has reported out, the group will
have a facilitator-led discussion of the findings. (What do the findings tell us about the challenges and improvement
options for each of the areas? What are the similar and different approaches that systems take to address the
challenges that they face?). This session is a critical peer-to-peer learning opportunity. The session facilitator
should be sure to engage all workshop participants in the discussion and ask them to share their ideas for how to
improve, what they have done previously to improve, and what types of challenges they have faced.
Session 5b: To begin this portion of the session, the facilitator should recap the results of the group discussion
in Session 5a. In response to the challenges discussed in Session 5a, the facilitator will present resources that EPA
and USDA identified for rural and small systems that relate to the ten management areas. These resources can be
found on slides 30-41. When addressing the Resources Guide, the facilitator should note that there are two
versions of the document: a printer-friendly version (which should be included in the materials given to
participants), and a more in-depth electronic version (which should be emailed to participants after the meeting).
The more in-depth version has a filter function that allows the user to sort the resources by management area.
Finally, the facilitator should take about 30 minutes to introduce the attendees to the System Management
Improvement Plan worksheet, which will be a useful resource for them to use at their individual systems when
identifying improvement activities. An example of the completed worksheet can be found on the next page.
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Example System Management Improvement Plan Worksheet
Priority Management Areas:
1.	water ^source Adequacy
2.	Product {finality
3.	fiwA Mstil VlaMlifcw
Improvement Action:
improve practices for reducing the number of outstanding bills
Description:

Limit the cflrry-forwflrd balance to fl -fixed Amount and
S Action

LiA.dre.flse service deposits to discourage customers who in
S Management Area(s)

frec[uevttlij or ni -pflytiA,g their bills.,
addressed

Financial via bility
S Objective(s)

tzeduce the amount of moMij tost to unpflld bills
Timeline:

JuiM Q01S: Stflrt -isrflft 0ft rry-forward balance
S Start date

flliowfliA.ee fliAcf new service deposit requirements for wAs#
S Milestones

customers.
S Target completion date

July 2M.3;: Propose and approve new balance flwdl deposit
requirements At boflrtf meetiiAg
August SDiB: Notify customers of new requirements


.September o&isn llomptetion. - implement new balance and
.deposit requirements
Responsible Party (or Parties):

Bill Smith


jane Anderson
Relevant Resources (on-hand

Example ordinance text created by other utilities to support
or needed):

the desired policy change
Challenges to Address:

Public pressure on board members to reject rflte increases
Review Process:

Milestone dates met
S Performance indicators or

weetely progress, chectes with utility director relative to
measures

identified milestones
S Status reports and updates


frequency/cycle


Other Notes:

Co.nduct cfllis with each boflrd member to explain the tteed
for the policy change fliAri Answertheir questions
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Multi System Workshop only: Participant
Feedback (Session 6)
Use slide 42 in Workshop Slides and the Participant Feedback
Form
As part of closing out the day, it is important to get feedback from participants
about how they thought the workshop went. This is especially true if you are
planning to run another similar event in the future, so that you can modify
your approach as needed. The facilitator should thank the group for their
participation, explain the feedback form, give any information about follow-up
(electronic distribution of meeting materials, etc.), and close out the day by
letting participants know that they are free to leave once they've completed their forms (try to give them
approximately 15-30 minutes to do so).
Team Exercise Workshop only: Resources and Additional
Improvement Ideas (Session 4)
Use slides 29-41 in Workshop Slides, the Resources Guide, and refer to Appendix III in the
Rural and Small Systems Guidebook
TEMPLA
RESOURCES GUIDE FOR RURAL
AND SMALL UTILITIES
In response to the discussions from Session 3 about improving outcomes and challenges that the utility faces, the
team leader will present the tips, tools, and resources that EPA and USDA have compiled for rural and small
systems to use when making improvements in the management areas. This
information can be found in slides 29-41. The team leader should also walk
participants through the Resources Guide, making sure to note that there are
two versions of the document: a printer-friendly version (which should be
included in the materials given to participants), and a more in-depth electronic
version (which should be made available after the meeting). The more in-
depth version has a filter function that allows the user to sort the resources by
management area.
Tirm
Following the team leader's presentation, the team should have a full-group
discussion about any additional ideas that may have been sparked about
improving performance in the management areas, and any resources that they
would like to explore further.
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UI III IY MANAGtMfcNT
IMPROVEMENTPLAN WORKSHEET
Team Exercise Workshop only: Action
Plan (Session 5)
Use slide 42 in Workshop Slides, the System Management
Improvement Plan worksheet, and refer to pages 17-19 and
Appendix II in the Rural and Small Systems Guidebook
To close out the day, the team should regroup to discuss what next steps
will be taken to move forward with making improvements in the
management areas that were identified as priorities. With the team leader
leading the discussion, the group should confirm the management areas
that it will focus on, make assignments for whom will take the lead in each
area, and assign time frames for completing the next steps in the improvement process. The System Management
Improvement Plan worksheet is a useful resource when conducting this exercise.
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POST-WORKSHOP FOLLOW-UP
Multi System Workshop
In the days following your meeting, there are still a few steps that need to be completed. Make sure that you
address these items in particular, as well as any others that came up during your workshop:
S Record the contact information that you received for participants on the sign-in sheets so that you can get
in touch with them in the future.
S Send a follow-up message to participants, thanking them for attending, and providing any meeting
materials that you may have promised, such as the electronic version of the Resource Guide.
S Review feedback given on Feedback Forms - What went well? What could be improved? If you are
planning on hosting another workshop, make a plan for modifying your approach based on the feedback
you received.
Team Exercise Workshop
Now that your team is on the path to making improvements in the management areas, it is important to follow up
immediately after the meeting (let no more than a day or two pass before doing this) so that you can keep the
momentum going. Make sure that you address these items in particular, as well as any others that came up during
your workshop:
S Follow up on the list of action items that you came up with at the end of the meeting (immediate next
steps, identifying resources and guides that will help you with your priority management areas, etc.).
S Brief any staff members who may have missed the event.
S Schedule a follow-up meeting for a few weeks or a month later to check in on progress made on the action
items that were identified to address the top three priority management areas.
Congratulations! You have completed the Workshop in a Box for the Sustainable
Management of Rural and Small Systems Workshops!
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Content Contributors
Jim Home
U.S. EPA
Rob Greenwood
Ross Strategic
Morgan Hoenig
Ross Strategic
Eirin Krane-Peterfreund
Ross Strategic
Allison Martin
ORISE Participant, U.S. EPA
Leah Tai
ORISE Participant, U.S. EPA
LaVonda Pernell
USDA
Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk
USDA
Matthew Richardson
U.S. EPA
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Workshop in a Box: Sustainable Management of Rural and
Small Systems Workshops
October 2013

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