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Are you ready for Phoenix? We Are! #ICMA12 #localgov

Posted September 30, 2012 10:56 PM by Dylan Miyake

Just under seven days and counting to the newest edition of the annual International City/County Management Association conference in sunny Phoenix, Arizona! This ICMA sponsored event, convening nearly 2,500 leaders, hundreds of speakers and an expo center full of solutions for every innovative town out there; we sure hope your community is sending a delegation.

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HELP - I’m Lost!

Posted September 30, 2012 9:36 PM by Brandon Kline

As I’m sure you have heard, the iPhone’s new mapping software is a complete mess. The phone was highly anticipated and many spent hours waiting in line or up at 3 o’clock in the morning attempting to be one of the first owners of a shiny new iPhone 5.  However, instead of the glowing reviews Apple is accustomed to receiving, a majority of the feedback has been focused on the poorly functioning “Apple Maps.” After reading another negative article this weekend, I found myself thinking of how frustrated I become when I get lost. 

Yes, getting lost when driving to a friend’s house is a pain. You arrive at your destination, knock on the door, and someone you’ve never seen answers (if you’re wondering, this has happened to me before). Now, imagine trying to run an organization and feeling the same way.  You think you’re headed in one direction, only to find out your vision was derailed somewhere along the way and you never even noticed. 

How do you get back on track? Well, the answer is simple – define (or in some cases, redefine) your mission. What’s the first thing you do when navigating from your phone or GPS? You set your destination.  Defining the mission is like setting your destination. It expresses the reason why your organization exists. A clearly defined mission prevents organizational drift, or simply put – “getting lost.” 

What does it take to develop an effective mission statement? First, it must be agreed upon and fully adopted by the leaders within the organization. Once developed, it needs to be effectively communicated at all levels of the organization. Having a clear vision at the top will motivate and guide all others involved, creating buy-in collectively and individually. 

An effective mission statement becomes the focal point for aligning resources and operations at all levels. It should apply to the daily tasks of frontline employees or volunteers, all the way to the highest levels of decision makers within the organization. This will help guarantee that everyone stays aligned to the ultimate mission and is working together for a common purpose. 

Don’t wait until you knock on the wrong door. Take the time to properly set your destination as an organization and align your resources to get you there.

An Ode to Napping and Night Owls: When Do You Feel Most Alert?

Posted September 26, 2012 10:28 PM by Angie Mareino

Finally! I will not be ashamed! Let the truth be told: I am a night owl whose sleep patterns resemble sprints, not marathons. 

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What do Alabama Football and the Balanced Scorecard have in Common?

Posted September 24, 2012 8:56 AM by Ted Jackson

I’m originally from Alabama, and thus I’m a big Crimson Tide fan.  These are good times to be a fan with Nick Saban as coach and two national championships in the past three years.  Imagine if this was your organization.  It means that two of the last three years, you executed your strategy the exact way you designed it.  You accomplished all of your organization goals and excelled in all measurable areas.  It appears that you are on track for long term success.  For the University of Alabama, it means there is a lot of media attention to try to figure out the formula for the success. <more/>

There have been many articles in sports magazines, and there have been them in business publications as well, including the Wall Street Journal.  I was reading Fortune magazine’s article by Brian O’Keefe about Alabama, and it reminded me of the Balanced Scorecard.  O’Keefe quotes Saban as saying “First you’ve got to have a vision. Then you’ve got to have a plan to implement it.”  I agree completely.  We’ve been helping many nonprofits and NGOs with visioning exercises, change agendas, and strategy maps to lay out the plan to implement the change needed in an organization.

As for the implementation plan at Alabama, there is a phrase for it “the Process.” The Process is a disciplined operational approach that keeps the assistant coaches and players focused on execution.  He thinks about all of the components and aligns all of the activities, including training, recruiting, practices, and academics to the Process.  Now, imagine your organization.  Do you take all of your business units or key functions and think about how they operate?  Are they all aligned in executing the strategy and getting the right things done?

One of the things I found interesting in the Fortune article is that O’Keefe points out that the Process gives the coaches and the players more confidence in what happens.  If they need to adjust on the field, in the middle of the game, they can, because they know they have a set of activities that they have been working on and they trust that everyone knows their roles.  Again, if you have a clear strategy in your organization, you will be able to adjust when something extraordinary happens because your entire team will have a vision of where you are trying to go.  In the mission-driven space, I’m confident that Saban would love City-Stat, School-Stat, and strategy review meetings as a way to examine the activities, look at data, and make decisions to help achieve results.  His results speak for themselves: 48-6 in the last five years.  They are 4-0 this year (at the time of this blog). Two crystal trophies are in the cabinet so far. David Norton would be impressed with the Achievement Results.   Roll Tide!!!

A Quick "Stress Test" Can Confirm If Your Strategy Map Will Work for You

Posted September 19, 2012 8:21 PM by Mark Cutler

I was working with a client last week, preparing for his unit’s strategy map workshop by pre-briefing him on the draft strategy map we had developed based on interviews with his leadership team and the overall organization’s strategy map.

After we reviewed the draft map and he felt we were pretty close, he asked, “OK, so at the end of the workshop, when we have consensus from the team that we are 80% there with the strategy map, how do we know?  Can we stress test it?  Can we think up a few potential scenarios that we may encounter and see how, if we are focused on the strategic objectives, the strategy map will help us deal with the scenarios.

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Chicago Public Schools: "That Used To Be Us"

Posted September 14, 2012 9:11 AM by Dylan Miyake

As has been widely reported, the teachers in Chicago are on strike. The teacher's union, some 25,000 strong, is demanding that laid-off teachers be given the first opportunity for new opening and for an evaluation system that does not rely as heavily upon student results. They're also upset about the calls for a longer school day and a longer school year. Of course, at the end of the day, neither the administration or the teacher's union will "win" this one. Only the students stand to lose, and here's why.

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