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ClearPoint Community Colorado Regional Meeting: A Recap
Last week, the ClearPoint Team hosted a virtual ClearPoint Community Colorado regional meeting.
The annual gathering, which is typically in person, provides our Colorado community an opportunity to share best practices in strategy and performance management, network with their peers, and learn from one another. Although we could not be together in person, the virtual setting allowed us to continue this tradition and as usual, the conversation was robust. Below are a few of the takeaways from our time together.
Measure What Matters
Arapahoe County kicked off the best practice sharing with an update on how they navigated the new, remote working environment and used the time to conduct a deep dive into their performance metrics. As a result, the County and its departments recognized, even more acutely, that tracking the right measures is key when making crucial decisions. During this deep dive, some measures were identified as random and serving no purpose while others did not provide the right context to enable decision making. Departments either eliminated measures that provide no value or strengthened those that do. Arapahoe County also created a performance management community that meets quarterly via a virtual platform. The meeting includes representatives from each department, where they share best practices and remove departmental siloes.
The City of Arvada is currently on a journey to excellence, incorporating the Baldrige framework into their work. They made the decision to move from organizing their strategy around thirteen individual departments to a work system model. The work system model allows the City to maximize efficiency when providing services to their customers and it helps them optimize team collaboration. Their work systems are synonymous with the City Council’s priority areas, ensuring buy-in and alignment City-wide.
Each work system team reviewed its performance measures to make sure they were relevant, innovative, and aligned with the City’s strategy. Teams then determined whether each measure was strategic or operational in nature, who would own the measure, if there would be a target, and if there was a benchmarking opportunity. Once this exercise was complete, the City knew which measures they were going to keep and which ones they were going to archive. One of the benefits of adopting this new framework and focusing on alignment was that team members can see how the hard work that they do every day aligns with and feeds into the City Council’s strategic plan and the overall vision for the City.
Improve Processes Incrementally
The City of Fort Collins has a biennial budget process, which begins with the onboarding of their new Council. Identifying Council priorities is one of multiple inputs that the City uses to inform their strategic plan. The City also engages the community, staff, and management during the input gathering phase. Following all input, the draft strategic plan is built, and the executive team provides feedback. What the City was missing was the input of the department heads, which affected their buy-in of the plan. So, beginning with the 2018 plan and continuing in 2020, the City set up a series of meetings organized around each of seven outcomes and engaged the department heads in the process. This enabled their voices to be heard and, as a result, a positive evolution occurred in the organization. Conversations were richer. There was direct buy-in across the organization. Department heads felt like they owned the strategic plan. Now, department heads are involved in the monthly executive level reviews, which focus on each of the City’s outcomes.
With COVID, Fort Collins had to be nimble and make a few short-term adjustments. The first was to convert to a one-year budget process resuming the two-year cadence in 2022. The second was to fast track evaluation of budget requests, which is typically done by teams organized around the seven outcomes. The third was a delay in the public engagement kick off. Even though there were changes, key components of the process remained. Every budget request still had to tie to at least one primary strategic objective and show how the funding would move that objective forward. Each request had to have at least one performance metric. The preservation of these key components has allowed the City to maintain the rich dialogues within their monthly executive level reviews and across the organization.
Keep It Simple
Adams County is the newest member of the ClearPoint Community and, although they are just getting started on their strategy and performance management journey, the rate at which they are progressing is impressive. Adams County has five goals articulated by its Commission. Recently, the County held a strategy summit where they simplified their goals to make them more clear, concise, and easy to remember – much like their vision and mission statements. The County’s cultural norms, values and competencies help guide them. The County is also taking a deep dive into its performance measurement strategy and determining what measures they should retain to drive decision making.
Tie It Together With ClearPoint
2020 threw a lot of curve balls at local government organizations. Buckling under the pressure wasn’t an option for these Colorado cities and counties – they have residents that need them. They seized the opportunity to take a deep dive into their processes to adjust them to the current situation and improve them for years to come.
Because each organization had a performance management program in place and tool to help them track it, they were able to quickly evaluate what changes they needed to make and implement them organization-wide. While each organization adjusted in their own way, ClearPoint was tightly woven into each process and helped ease each transition.