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2019 Transforming Local Government Conference
It has been one week since our ClearPoint Team and many of our ClearPoint Community members attended the 2019 Transforming Local Government (TLG) Conference in Reno, Nevada, and we are still feeling energized from the experience.
It has been one week since our ClearPoint Team and many of our ClearPoint Community members attended the 2019 Transforming Local Government (TLG) Conference in Reno, Nevada, and we are still feeling energized from the experience. TLG stands out as an exceptional conference due to the passion, drive, and expertise of the attendees, and this year’s conference did not disappoint!
From the moment we arrived, we witnessed a clear push by local government leaders to respond to today’s needs, to manage their teams better, and to improve their efficiency. At the same time, we saw a clear call to prove that interventions, as a result of data-driven decisions, lead to lasting change. Impact was the focal point for these local government leaders and the true power was found when these two approaches – action and impact – linked seamlessly.
Over the years, we have seen significant growth in data-driven local government now operating in an environment that increasingly seeks and even demands evidence of impact. Local government leaders are poised to demonstrate the impact of what they do in terms of multiple bottom lines but, because of the complexity of doing this, many in this space struggle with data: getting it and using it correctly. The City of Olathe and the City of Raleigh both offered high-impact best practice solutions for becoming data-driven organizations even in the face of significant change.
City of Olathe, Kansas on Efficiency and Transparency
We had the privilege of co-presenting with the City of Olathe at this year’s conference in a session titled Spilling the Beans: Everything You Want and Need to Know About Strategy and Performance Management. Three key steps in the City of Olathe’s strategy and performance management journey have been centralizing their efforts and having a dedicated team member to spearhead those efforts, gaining the support of leadership, and bringing to the table an innovative technology solution, which would help the City achieve their goals for greater accountability, efficiency and transparency. Recognized as a leader among their peers, the City of Olathe offered very practical advice to session participants, who are focused on serving their communities and driving lasting change.
- Keep it simple! The City of Olathe has centralized all their reporting in ClearPoint. They have organized everything around their departments and entered departmental business plans. Some departments have more visuals than others, but each has a vision, a high-level summary of where the department is heading, challenges and opportunities listed, and performance measures that tie back to the citywide plan and their organizational goals.
- Embed repetition in your process. The City of Olathe asks for the same information across departments and structures the information in a similar format. They ask for the data to be updated at regular intervals to keep their reporters in a rhythm.
- Meet regularly. The City of Olathe has a regular meeting with leadership to review metrics called PerforMax. Metrics are tied to organizational goals and discussed with leadership. Core measures are discussed, and these discussions are led by the subject matter experts. Only a handful of measures are reviewed during a meeting and they ask: What can we be doing to impact a measure? These meetings have increased collaboration, leading to in-depth conversations, and better decision-making.
- Know your customer. The City of Olathe takes a statistically significant survey of their citizens every quarter to see how the city is performing in the eyes of their community. The program is called DirectionFinder and all the results are loaded into ClearPoint so the measures can be linked with an organizational goal and they can visualize the results. Index scores have been created for different areas, and each question has a detail page showing past performance, the city’s performance compared to benchmarks (if available), and the qualitative analysis of what the data reveal. Screen shot examples are available in the PowerPoint.
- Be transparent. The City of Olathe uses ClearPoint to publish all the departmental business plans to the city website for citizens to view. In addition, the City of Olathe has a dashboard online for their citizens called Olathe Performs. The dashboard has three-levels with a summary landing page, information about each area, and measure detail pages. The dashboard is easy for citizens to consume and understand. There are 33 measures, and 15 of these measures are the City Council Key Metrics. The City kept everything succinct and gave context around all the content so they could effectively tell their story to citizens. Departments make sure their measure analysis that goes onto the dashboard each quarter for the public is concise and clear. The City includes benchmarking data whenever they can and targets, so their citizens know how the city is fairing compared to peers and the city’s own targets.
City of Raleigh, North Carolina, on Organizational Buy-In and Empowering your Staff
The City of Raleigh went through its first ever strategic planning process in 2015. The process was very thoughtful, and they were focused on incorporating best practices. The City’s five-year strategic plan translates vision and goals into an actionable strategy that guides the organization’s focus, work, and resource alignment. The overarching key focus areas and underlying objectives, initiatives, and performance measures allow the City to be transparent about their goals, focused in on their efforts, and accountable for their results.
The City has seen the greatest impact out of the establishment of CORStat (City of Raleigh Statistics) and The Strategic Planning and Performance Analytics Academy (referred to as “The Academy”). CORStat, developed in 2016 as part of the City’s performance management efforts, ensures progress is being made on addressing the City’s Strategic Plan goals. Each of the six key focus areas included in the City’s Strategic Plan hosts semiannual CORStat meetings, which provides a structure and a forum for discussing progress and allows for cross-departmental problem solving and information sharing.
The City of Raleigh held a deep desire to establish a data-driven culture resulting in lasting change within their community. Employees, while receptive, feared the additional work and were concerned they lacked adequate data training. The City, recognizing that organizational buy-in was paramount, created The Academy modeled after the Denver Peak Academy. The Academy, launched in Fall 2016, aligns the city’s analytic training program with the City’s strategic priorities with the goal of setting employees up to succeed and know they play a critical role in affecting change. The City of Raleigh emphasizes the importance of preparing employees to meet new data-influenced expectations and cross-departmental collaboration.
More Innovative Approaches
More innovative approaches were showcased during the conference offering additional best practice solutions for communities with a strong commitment to impact. Two that stood out were presented by the City of Durham in partnership with Durham County, North Carolina, and the City of Fort Worth, Texas. For Durham, as this year’s recipient of the J. Havlick Award for Innovation, Innovate Durham is a partnership program that allows startups and staff to collaboratively test new technology turning the City and County into a “living lab.” For the City of Fort Worth, Exceptional Customer Experience is one of their core values. In order to differentiate between customer service and Exceptional Customer Experience, the City developed an interactive “Choose your own adventure” scenario that is designed to separate employees from their ingrained organizational perspectives and biases so that they can better understand what a process feels like from the customer’s point of view.
We wrapped up the conference with a super fun, 40-minute GovLove Podcast hosted by Engaging Leaders in Local Government alongside the City of Durham and the City of Olathe. The City of Olathe and the City of Durham shared their stories around strategy and performance management and the deep connections they have with one another and within the ClearPoint Community network.
The TLG Conference is a ClearPoint favorite and we were excited to be back this year as an Alliance Corporate Partner. Even though we were sad to say good-bye to our local government friends, we know that it will only be a few short weeks before we see them again at our Strategy and Performance Management Summit.