City of Germantown: Building, Implementing, and Executing a Strategic Plan

“It is all about storytelling. If you can’t explain to your customers, residents or your neighbors how the data affects them, and what it means to their daily life, you will not be able to grab their interest.”

The City of Germantown’s population is well-educated and expects a great deal out of their City government.

The City has been named a ‘Top 10 City for Working Families’ by Forbes and is home to the region’s only Apple Store. The Germantown Municipal School District is only four years old, but since its inception, it has posted the highest ACT scores out of any district in the State of Tennessee. The City of Germantown has gathered awards and recognition from both their citizens and associations. However, this did not happen by random chance or accident. Germantown is a great place to live, work, and play by design, as seen in their strategic planning and performance management.

From government to corporate model

The City of Germantown chose a different type of framework than most local governments when creating their strategic plan. They were inspired by the book ‘We Don’t Make Widgets: Overcoming the Myths that Keep Government from Radically Improving’ and chose a corporate model for running their city.

How are they like a for-profit company? They have customers (their citizens), employees, and goods and services (keeping crime low, building parks, education, etc.). The City decided to focus on outcomes and what citizens wanted and built a strategy around how they could satisfy those wants. For example, citizens don’t want a beautiful park, they want to be able to form community bonds, exercise, congregate and enjoy other ways parks benefit a community.

Building an organic strategic plan

In 2015, City Administration decided it was time to create a new strategic plan with the input of their citizens. A 30-person steering committee was created to help create the ‘Germantown Forward 2030’ vision.

One year and numerous meetings later, a town hall discussion with over 200 citizens was held to review the vision. Once the vision was finalized, a task force was made up of a variety of citizens to create action plans and measures based on 9 key indicators. These task forces created the ‘meat’ of the strategic plan, and helped add objectives, action items and performance measures to track the progress of the vision. By the end of the process, members of the community invested approximately 2,000 hours in the “Germantown Forward 2030” plan.

Executing the strategic plan

The City of Germantown understood that in order to execute on their strategic plan, they would need more than excel spreadsheets. They chose ClearPoint to track their strategic information so they could spend time looking at important data in order to make decisions. City leaders moved from discussing if they had the right data, where it was coming from, and why reports were formatted differently, to asking questions like “How much did it cost?”, “How long did it take?” and “Did it have the impact that we wanted it to have?” The City leverages ClearPoint to track all their processes and measures. Their reports are concise, and goals are marked with status icons so that they can easily focus their discussion on performance.

Every quarter, the City Administrator meets with each department director and they discuss the important measures and processes. ‘Business Plan’ reports are used during these meetings to review the key department metrics. ClearPoint makes it easy to distinguish how measures are doing, so the directors do not have to analyze every item in the strategic plan. They can view a high-level overview of their strategic plan at any time, and can see the alignment between goals, measures and processes at all levels of the organization. The City shares their progress with citizens through their Community Dashboard and are moving towards 2030 with high aspirations to even better satisfying their customers.


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