#ELGL19 and Avengers: Endgame, a Comparison

This was the first ELGL conference that I've attended, and it didn't disappoint. In fact, there were a lot of parallels between #ELGL19 and Avengers: Endgame.

Joseph, Director of Customer Success at ClearPoint, has over 10 years of experience working with customers to create efficient performance management and strategy execution processes.

Just two weeks ago, Engaging Local Government Leaders held their annual conference, #ELGL19, in Durham, North Carolina.  This was my first.  Since joining ClearPoint Strategy in September of last year, I had heard so much buzz from our ClearPoint Community about ELGL that I could not wait to experience it up front and personal!  Right before I left for the conference, I, just like millions of other avid Marvel movie-goers, watched Avengers: Endgame.  Throughout the conference, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the two.  Let me elaborate (Spoiler Alert!):

Every lofty expectation I had was exceeded

There was so much build up for Avengers: Endgame that I thought I had begun to develop expectations that would not be met.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  The same can be said for #ELGL19.  It started with the Innovation Summit, which was held one day in advance of the conference.   From the moment I walked through the door, I could feel the energy and excitement in the room. It was palpable. There was a sense that we were embarking on an experience that we would not soon forget (are you beginning to see the parallel?).

To prepare for the Innovation Summit, attendees read the report Getting the Work Done: What Government Innovation Really Looks Like, a compilation of research and interviews with people ‘making government work.’ The report encourages local government leaders to think differently about government and provides a roadmap for how to innovate.  The summit was intended to build upon that body of work with a two-fold purpose:  build relationships to further a sense of community in the local government space and build an action plan for a path forward.  The 150 in attendance were broken into three groups, which then embarked on answering three questions:

  • What do we call work?
  • How do we stay connected?
  • How do we grow?

With the results of the brainstorming sessions, ELGL members and staff plan to create a set of action plans based on the ideas generated furthering the effort to improve the way local government talks about their work, shares their solutions and resources, and develops their future leaders.

There was no shortage of superheroes

Avengers: Endgame featured every Marvel superhero from their 11-year, 22-film history.  Just like the movie, #ELGL19 showcased a host of what I would call “local government superheroes.”  The conference was kicked off by Steve Schewel, Mayor of the City of Durham, who impressively delivered his speech in two languages, English and Spanish.  I hung onto one of his statements, in particular.  “Trust is our currency.”  This was a theme throughout (much like the journey we witnessed between Iron Man and Captain America) and the Mayor really set the tone for the entire event.

There were four tracks:  Strategy & Performance Management; Equity & Economic Inclusion; Innovation & Process Improvement; and Workforce of the Future.  I stuck with the Strategy & Performance Management track, for obvious reasons, and it did not disappoint!  In the first session of the day, Actually Accomplishing Your Strategic Plan, two ClearPoint Community members, Monica Croskey Chaparro with the City of Raleigh, NC, and Shari Metcalfe with the City of Durham, NC, along with the Cassie Johnson with the City of Scottsdale, AZ led the participants through a series of presentations on their respective approaches.  The City of Durham described their journey of switching from Excel spreadsheets to ClearPoint’s reporting software.  The use of technology has enabled the City to effectively drive strategy execution across their organization. This was a great starting point for the track, which continued with impressive presentations from Dr. Monica Allen with Mecklenburg County, VA, Rebecca Jackson with the City of Fayetteville, NC, and Kate Bender with Kansas City, MO – all with varied approaches that could serve as a guide for those in attendance.

Presenters throughout the day addressed common challenges in local government – challenges such as bridging the gap between strategy formulation and strategy execution or removing siloes in order to operate more efficiently.  We heard about the importance of engaging in strategic, collaborative discussions, fostering ownership and accountability, and creating a culture, where innovation could thrive.

The day ended with a mixer at Hi-Wire Brewing, which was located in the Golden Belt – an historic 320,000 square foot repurposed tobacco facility.  This is where I had the honor of meeting and spending time with the First Lady of Water, Cathy Bailey – the first woman and the first African American woman to serve as the director of the 200-year old Greater Cincinnati Water Works (not to mention a Traeger Award Winner).

As I reflect on the day, I recall the scene in Avengers: Endgame where the women of Marvel forge into battle.  It was a poignant image – one that caused an eruption of applause in the movie theatre.  With many of the local government superheroes at #ELGL19 being women, I couldn’t help but think about this moment in the movie and want to recreate the scene with superimposed images of the women I met!

Community is the centerpiece

It’s amazing how much more we can accomplish when we are part of a community.  We saw this throughout Avengers: Endgame and we see it as a cornerstone of ELGL.  Through community, ELGL is making amazing strides to accelerate the pace of progress in local government so that those who are where the rubber meets the road can better serve their own communities.  And, unlike the Marvel franchise, which has come to an end, ELGL is just getting started!

We, at ClearPoint, love our local government community, and we work hard to foster peer-to-peer connections whether that be in partnership with organizations like ELGL, in person at our annual summit or regional events, or directly through our reporting software by way of peer-to-peer sharing.  Building a vibrant, robust ClearPoint Community is one of our top priorities and the ClearPoint Team stands ready to assist.

Avengers, Assemble! 

#ELGL19 and Avengers: Endgame, a Comparison