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The Geospatial Edge: Issue 3, Summer 2022

The Geospatial Edge is Esri Canada’s periodic newsletter for managers and professionals tasked with growing their organizations’ geospatial capabilities. In this issue, Matt Lewin gives you a head start on transforming your organization by cultivating a geospatial mindset at all levels.

Transform your organization through geospatial culture and mindset

Managers frequently tell me that despite the efforts of the geospatial industry to make easier-to-use tools, there's a stubborn lack of adoption of geospatial technology across their organizations. Much of it comes down to a geospatial mindset—or the lack of one.

A mindset is a way of thinking that transcends learned skills. It refers to how you instinctively orient your mind when presented with a problem. People with a geospatial mindset aren't just trained in spatial analysis and tools; they're motivated to use their skills.

When a whole organization thinks this way, you have a recipe for serious geo-success.

But how do you build a mindset like this, especially at an organization-wide scale? A great piece from Harvard Business Review about digital mindsets provides a useful guide. In summary, mindset development requires focusing on two critical areas: culture and alignment.

In the case of a geospatial culture, the emphasis is on encouraging or even incentivizing a geographic approach to solving problems—essentially, bringing geography to bear in all facets of decision-making.

For alignment, the key is uniting people around common geospatial platforms, methods and practices.

The best organizations do both.

Your reading, listening and watching list

Make Geographic Thinking Part of Culture: This article positions culture as an ingrained "habit" and provides six practical steps you can take to cultivate a geospatial culture and ingrain geospatial in your organization's DNA.

It includes everything from incorporating spatial prompts and questions as agenda items in quarterly planning meetings to regularly celebrating "geo-successes" such as launching a new mapping solution or hosting an annual GIS day.

Why You Need a Geospatial Community of Practice: In this piece, the authors review the benefits of a geospatial community of practice and provide sage advice for building one in your organization.

Key here is the inclusion of professional and non-professional practitioners from across the organization to make this a true community where the shared purpose is cross-functional alignment and knowledge sharing.

Podcast: I also invite you to check out a recent podcast with the former head of analytics and innovation (now director of information management) of the Toronto Police Service, Ian Williams.

He talks about empowering everyday users with quick-to-deploy, easy-to-use tools as a way of cultivating a geospatial mindset.

Let’s talk

I'd love to know what you're doing on the culture and mindset front. If you have an interesting story, I'd love to connect, hear about your experiences and possibly feature them in another edition of The Geospatial Edge. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, or email me directly. All you need to do is send me an email and let me know what's on your mind.

All the best,


The Geospatial Edge is a periodic newsletter about geospatial strategy and location intelligence by Esri Canada’s director of management consulting, Matt Lewin. This blog post is a copy of the issue that was sent to subscribers in July 2022. If you want to receive The Geospatial Edge right to your inbox along with related messages from Esri Canada, visit our Communication Preference Centre and select “GIS Strategy” as an area of interest. Please note that at the time of publication, the newsletter is currently only available in English.

About the Author

Matthew Lewin is the Director of Management Consulting for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on helping management teams optimize and transform their business through GIS and location-based strategies. As a seasoned consultant, Matthew has provided organizations in the public and private sectors with practical strategies that enable GIS as an enterprise business capability. At the intersection of business and technology is where Matthew’s interests lie, and he thrives on helping organizations bridge the gap to achieve their most challenging GIS ambitions.

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