Bartlett, Tennessee, is a thriving suburban community renowned for its commitment to quality living. With a population exceeding 60,000 residents, Bartlett has evolved from a small town into one of the state's most vibrant cities. 

ClearPoint Strategy co-founder Ted Jackson hosted Chief Administration Officer Steve Sones – who has been with the city for 22 years – for a customer interview, exploring how city leaders leverage ClearPoint to maintain Bartlett’s position as a premier community in Tennessee, even after change.

Watch the full video here!

A Community Committed to Excellence

The City of Bartlett, TN embarked on a journey to overhaul its strategic planning process after the retirement of a long-serving mayor and CAO. With the introduction of a new administration keen on improving strategic direction, the city recognized the need for a new plan.

The city had hired a consultant to draft a strategy in late 2019. However, once COVID hit in 2020, the process was put on pause. Luckily, the city was able to use the template from before, but the processes in place proved unpopular.

The primary challenge was the absence of a unified strategic vision across city departments, resulting in disjointed efforts and inefficiencies. The plan lacked a comprehensive metric system, and the administration realized the need for a solution that could align diverse departmental activities with the overarching goals of the city.

Previously, you had everybody doing all these great things, but in their own separate entities. What ClearPoint and the strategic plan helped us do is bring all that together. We’re not working in silos.

Strategy and Implementation

To address the challenge, Bartlett devised a city-wide strategic plan involving:

  • Academic Partnership: The city partnered with the University of Memphis to help gather public data (for free!).
  • A Community Dashboard: The city developed a public-facing dashboard that displays real-time progress on city objectives, building trust and transparency.
  • Regular Strategic Reviews: The city implemented weekly meetings with department directors and quarterly strategic reviews using ClearPoint to automate updates and maintain strategic alignment.

See inside Bartlett’s ClearPoint account in our webinar (10:07)

The city built an entirely new strategic plan in only 13 months. Leaders also met with an adjacent community using ClearPoint, the City of Germantown, to talk through best practices. 

Click to read about the City of Germantown’s journey to Baldrige excellence with ClearPoint

This guidance, along with input from directors, the board of Aldermen, and public survey data, was used to build the city dashboard to present to the public. Bartlett Vision 2030 consists of an overall agenda, available online, with each piece of the plan owned by its 11 departments. Each department has several objectives and measures that link to one of five focus areas:

  1. Economic Vitality
  2. Growth & Infrastructure
  3. Vibrant Workforce
  4. Health & Public Safety
  5. Community Engagement
Bartlett, TN's Community Dashboard, powered by ClearPoint Strategy.

The externally accessible dashboard allows citizens and other stakeholders to track the city’s progress with better visibility.

A Hard Year’s Work

How was Bartlett able to do it all in one year? 

By understanding the importance of clear direction, leveraging relationships, and using a platform like ClearPoint, the city’s collaborative and dynamic approach helped to get it done.

The ClearPoint Strategy team pushed us. They’re setting dates and goals for you, just like you are with your team, and that’s what brought it together. Their prompting and support help – I’m happy with the way it worked out.

In addition to ClearPoint’s support, the city leaned on the aldermen, having several work sessions not only to convey survey results, but to get feedback on the direction. Their only wonder was why they weren’t doing things this way already!

According to Sones, the selling’s already been done. City Council members are able to see what is on the horizon and have the information laid out. These operational efficiency gains prompt better decision-making and resource allocation, leading to more efficient governing.

The new managerial approach fostered a cultural shift, one of accountability, significantly improving interdepartmental cooperation and internal dynamics. Sones claims that ClearPoint helps him answer the questions: “What’s going well?” “What’s not going well?” “What can we do to help get there?” and most importantly, “Is there anything that we need to be tracking that we’re not?”

With ClearPoint, it’s easy to have groups of information the most current as possible to see what we can do to help complete objectives and keep moving forward.

Best Practices

Sones sees the new strategic plan as a living, breathing document, and as plans are prone to change, recognizes the importance of collaboration and following best practices.

Simplicity

Simplicity scales. Keeping strategic processes simple and flexible is crucial for gaining and maintaining stakeholder support.

Continuous Feedback

Ongoing feedback mechanisms are essential in refining strategies, meeting new requirements, and adapting to changing needs. Regularly soliciting through employee surveys and other means help keep the feedback loop open.

Organizational Buy-In

By showing stakeholders the overall mission and putting strategy in front of everyone’s mind as they work through their day-to-day, you create a culture that supports it. 

Sones even jokes about the coining of the phrase, “Sounds like something that should go in ClearPoint,” among his colleagues.

Strategic Advice

For other municipalities looking to replicate Bartlett’s success, several pieces of advice can guide your strategic process. Take it from Sones:

Strategic Planning

Be open and inclusive. In Bartlett’s case, the mayor, aldermen (three of which were newly elected), and department directors all brought a fresh set of voices to speak for the community, alongside university survey results that further vetted the representatives’ claims. These insights ensured that the strategic plan fully encompassed all the necessary aspects to properly serve the community. 

Strategy with ClearPoint

As for ClearPoint software, be persistent, be fluid, and lead from the front. Show stakeholders what the system can do, and let it bring everything together to build a cohesive team.

The Future with ClearPoint

The city has effectively redefined its approach to strategy planning and management. As Bartlett continues to grow, its leaders remain focused on future-oriented strategies that address areas such as public safety, environmental health, education, and more. Future initiatives include linking a GIS map through ClearPoint for residents to track infrastructure progress, as well as using the platform’s artificial intelligence (AI) features to streamline tasks and achieve even greater buy-in. 

Bartlett’s efforts have driven sustainable development while still preserving its small-town charm. The city’s journey highlights the power of integrated performance systems in navigating the complexities of local government operations. With a clear vision and the right methodologies, any municipality can achieve similar success, driving progress and delivering measurable results to their communities.

See what ClearPoint could do for your community. Schedule a free demo to see the software in action.