Community Development or Economic Development? Part 2


There are a number of ways to address the issue of securing the housing stock of a community so as not to receive the comments I heard so many years ago. The first is a community, political and service ethic that the existing housing of the community is as important if not more important that seeking to build an industrial park or a new commercial center or restoring the downtown. The City Council and the appointed approval boards must realize the importance of its existing neighborhoods. As a city manager and or community/economic development professional, we can all say that we strive to provide service to the entire community; and at the same time, we must be intimately familiar with every neighborhood. We need to know what the housing stock, front and back yards really look like; the condition of the infrastructure, the number and type of complaints, service and emergency calls (police, fire, water service, sanitary sewer, flooding, etc.) received from that neighborhood and the socio-economics of that neighborhood. There is a direct correlation between all of these issues.

If a business person drove through THAT neighborhood, what is his/her impression of the community and how it is served? Will that neighborhood participate in the economic fruits of new development? Will the new development support community services? Will the new revenue be distributed for neighborhood improvements? Are all services being distributed equitably in your particular community? All of these fit into the equation of overall economic development and community sustainability. I will argue that these neighborhoods must see the city services first. Unfortunately, the attention and services from City Hall will cut both ways. These neighborhoods must see infrastructure improvements AND enforcement of a community wide exterior maintenance program. (The International Code Council has produced an easily understandable property maintenance program).

Let’s first start with the capital improvements program (herein as Cap Plan). Most of us are familiar with putting together a Cap Plan. A thorough Cap Plan will include a Pavement Management Program inspection (PMP). The PMP will often tell us not only the condition of the street, it will tell the condition of infrastructure lines under that pavement. The types of complaints (flooding, backed up sewers, water line breaks) from the neighborhood will provide additional documentation and justification. These pieces of information will also provide positive information and support for grant applications. Over the years I have heard many city managers tell stories of the correlation of infrastructure improvement in neighborhoods and the efforts made by residents to clean up yards, and building exteriors.

Creating an exterior maintenance program (herein EMP) will do the same thing. It may have a few more headaches, however, within it carries tools for creating successful neighborhoods and is a long term tool as all neighborhoods age. Asking the City Council to adopt such a code is central to improving neighborhoods and preventing some neighborhoods from deteriorating. Of course, these programs also help stabilize and protect property values (for which our school systems may or may not thank the City Council).

Equally important to the program will be the personality of the inspector and that person’s knowledge of available housing assistance programs (i.e., CDBG, NSP). The overall goal of program is compliance over time, hopefully avoiding any municipal litigation. Taking the homeowner to court is the last thing that should be done. I have worked with residents with whom compliance took over twelve months! Every homeowner’s dollar is stretching eight different ways. Showing compassion and understanding is key, especially of the resident knows what the overall program is trying to accomplish — and that person’s role in helping the community prosper and grow. And at the same time, stress to the owner the need to make progress. City Councils and neighbors need to understand this point. Hammering someone to comply in immediate time frames — using a court hearing and fines will only drag out the final goal of compliance and take cash out of that person’s pocket, delaying the situation even more, if not making it worse.

Record keeping is key in this program — if for no other reason than being able to inform complainants’ (and City Council members) of the situation and recorded progress being made. Pictures are a great tool. Further this information will be important when applying for CDBG housing fund monies or infrastructure fund monies. Getting information to the homeowner that assistance my be available may help soften the blow of receiving the dreaded compliance letter from the City.

With the recently adopted federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), more federal money is available to deal with neighborhood eyesores — primarily vacant houses. I recall talking with a Parks Director the importance of “pocket parks” in neighborhoods. This concept has been largely forgotten, focusing instead on large parks with large game and sports fields. This is a good time to revisit the idea. These newly vacant lots may be designed, with the neighborhood, focusing on small children or seniors or turning the former eyesore into a neighborhood garden.

Another approach with the NSP program and/or the CDBG housing program is to adopt a new building partnership with the neighborhood and a county-wide homebuilders association (HBA). The City of Akron has used this model rather effectively. The City of Kent started such a program, but it sadly fell apart in the transition of city managers and changing priorities. The Summit County Homebuilders Association purchases property from the City of Akron, or often times is given the property and new affordable homes are built. Infrastructure improvements are provided by the City (either via proprietary funding or grant funding). The HBA and neighbors can create an architectural review program to avoid cookie-cutter buildings and the neighborhood can act as a source of identifying new first time homeowners, also eligible for funding assistance. This is truly a win-win for all concerned.

A property maintenance program can work well with a neighborhood blockwatch program. Pairing these programs can be very empowering to a neighborhood. We need to encourage those in problematic or at-risk neighborhoods to landscape their yards — plant bright colorful flower beds — not pots. Potted plants imply temporary. Planted beds imply permanence — a sense of being home — taking a stand. In one community, we paired the blockwatch leaders with the police department in reacting to loud parties, drug busts and the like. While the police were making the arrests, phone numbers of the property owners were supplied to the block watch officials. (In lieu of direct phone numbers they were taught how to look up owners using county property tax records and they could then find phone numbers from there). We made it a practice of both the blockwatch officials and the police department calling the landlord at the time of the incident and/or arrest. Enough telephone calls at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., turned out to be an “incentive” to the landlord to deal with disruptive tenants. In many cases, these landlords sold their properties. In fact, in one community, we encouraged a number of landlords with problematic tenants to hold a neighborhood “open house.” This particular situation ended up in families purchasing these houses and moving. The voices of small children were far preferable to what had been heard.

New and improved neighborhoods not only spruce up parts of a community, these improvements create a new lively spirit. Neighborhood pride soars, and with it community pride. City administrators and Councils will note a decrease in complaints, service calls, and emergency service calls, essentially saving operational monies. I am sure there are many more potential solutions. Please feel free to share your community success stories on this blog. The more people that are talking about improving our communities, the better we all become.

Peace.

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Community Development Or Economic Development?


It seems to me that over the years, we as local government professionals (city managers, economic development folks, planners, etc) have differentiated between the two terms to mean two different types of development: Community development = residential development (or redevelopment) and Economic development = commercial and industrial development. Not only do we differentiate, but we segregate them in our thought processes.

Over the years, it has occurred to me that these two types of development in a development process are inextricably linked, often in a chicken and egg proposition: which supports which? Of course, there is also the thought process that we don’t really want a lot of residential development as the tax revenues (after ten years or so) are outpaced by the services required by the new residential development. However, it does take rooftops to attract commercial development (and their accompanying tax base); and we don’t want to live to far away from commercial development, as long as it is not in our backyard. But I digress, what I really want to address is the foundation of economic development: existing housing, especially older neighborhoods…

And what about the existing housing? Especially those over fifty years old? In particular, the ones in a neighborhood we classify as low-moderate income? I recall driving through a community with the CEO of a company that had just decided to locate in our community. He wanted a tour of the whole city (it was a small city of 6,000 people). As we drove on one street — in a higher density low-moderate income neighborhood, he asked, “How are you going to take care of me if you can’t take care of this neighborhood?” The houses were 50-80 years old; some of them at one time had been stately Victorian single family homes. Now they were divided into tri’s, quads and so forth. A couple of junk vehicles. Unkempt yards. Street alligatoring like a pair of shoes. My response, if I recall correctly was, “Um….”

I was city manager in a second city when our economic development director was talking to me about a visit by a delegation of Japanese businessmen and providing them with a tour of our industrial park. He indicated that we would need to take the state route bypass, adding another five miles or so to our trip. I asked him why we did not take them directly to the industrial park — right through town. He replied that the neighborhood that we were to drive through was too run down and that driving through this neighborhood would deter them from pursuing a project in this particular town. To say the least, I was a little taken aback.

If we ask the ED Director what the appropriate response is to these residential neighborhood issues, I am willing to bet that part of the answer is, “That’s not my job. That is a community development issue, not an economic development issue.” Hmmmm…

And herein lies the crux of my issue: ALL residential neighborhoods are the foundation of economic development, be it a commercial project, a downtown renovation project, or an industrial project. And it is the residential neighborhoods which are the cornerstone of community sustainability. So, why do we tend to ignore them in our drive for economic development in our communities? More importantly how do we include the neighborhoods in our overall economic development programs? More on this in a week or so. Thanks for tuning in.

I need to thank Ms. Della Rucker for her very valuable insights and edits to this post.  Thank You Della!

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How Sharp Is Your Saw?


I’ve been using Steven Covey’s book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” in a couple of my management classes. As of late, the seventh habit Sharpen the Saw, has been in mind. In the last month my father has passed, my oldest daughter has gone off to college in her first apartment, probably not to move back home, and a personal milestone. Add to this trying to  start-up a consulting business moving (we’ve just had our first contract this year!).   In other words, I’ve head a certain amount of stress and life changes in the past year; and in particular in the past month.

ICMA used to have (or at least I’ve not seen it in a while) a logo that said, “I can manage anything.” A clear setup for failure if I’ve ever seen one. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years is that no city manager can manage/handle anything (or everything). It really does come down to the community: department heads, council members, volunteer board members, community services organizations, churches, downtown coffee shops….you get the idea — it takes a community to manage a communty. The only thing we can manage is ourselves and how we react to the pressure and stressors.  And to do it effectively, as Covey put it: sharpen the saw.

Mr. Covey refers to sharpening the saw as taking “time to out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.” Many of try to make sure that the new health insurance carrier provides health programs to help our employees make better choices (smoking cessation, loose weight, etc.). How’s your waistline? Still smoking or chewing? We want to add physical fitness requirements in police and fire labor contracts (a very good idea), but what kind of shape are we in? We may even add EAP programs for our employees (another very good idea). But what about our mental health? How sharp is your saw blade?  And I can say that during this past year, I ache focused less on the saw issues that  have before over the pst 4 years.

I once heard a story about Mahatma Ghandi. It went something like this:

One day a mother came to see Ghandi with her young son. She said, “Ghandiji, please tell me son to quit eating sugar. It is bad for him, it will rot his teeth and makes him hyper.”
Ghandi replied, “Come back in two weeks and I’ll talk with him.”
Two weeks pass and the mother returns, beseeching Ghandi to tell her son to stop eating sugar. He again responds, “Come back in two weeks and I’ll speak with him.
Tow weeks again pass and the woman and her son visit Ghandi as directed. She says, “Ghandiji, please tell my son to stop eating sugar. He won’t listen to me, but he’ll listen to you. Please, tell him that eating sugar is bad for him. It’ll rot his teeth. It makes him very hyper and he always wants more.”
Ghandi looked at the boy and said, “You must stop eating sugar. Your mother is correct. Sugar will rot your teeth. It makes you crave more and it effects your behavior and makes you hyper.”
The mother is looking somewhat stressed and asks, “Ghandiji, why didn’t you say these things a month ago?”
Ghandi turned to her saying, “Madam, I was still eating sugar a month ago.”

As managers, leaders in our organizations, we are required to lead the way in so many ways. Yes, this is another. It is a way to lead that first takes care of us. Take some time every day to exercise, not just wait for golf season. Learn to meditate. I was told once that prayer it talking to God and medication is listening after that period of prayer.  A quiet mind is effective restored mind. Attend a church, synagogue, mosque or temple or attend to some spiritual practice. Watch your meals. Attend to your heart and waistline. It’s hard to add yet another hour, another discipline to our already busy day…but if we learn effective time management, we can do this. And like Ghandiji, a month ago, I was not doing anything.  Today, I alternate going to the gym, cycling, taping yoga on FitTV.  I pray more during the day. and take time to listen.  And I pray that you may join me.

Peace,

Charley Bowman

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Sustainability Education


The mission of Sustainability for Educators and the Environment is to teach sustainability principles to K-12 students, and support the creation and stewardship of sustainable waste management practices in schools nationwide. To offer curricula tailored to student age, and educator needs that fosters knowledge and practical application of sustainability principals in the classroom. To motivate environmental clubs and recycling programs to turn trash into cash and increase use of recyclable products to close the reuse loop.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with the principals of S.E.E. – they are also the principals of Emerald Environmental Consulting Services in Kent, Ohio. SEE is a non-profit 501c3 organization that integrates zero waste and sustainability education into K-12 classrooms to empower students and teachers with basic working principles they can use to save both money and the Earth’s natural resources. Through simple, yet powerful methods such as vermicomposting, food scrap composting, and recycling, SEE shows students how to take the steps toward a Zero Waste school. When students see the success of their actions, they’re likely to apply these principles to their everyday lives, making sustainability and stewardship a lifelong process.

By encouraging schools to teach beyond the textbook with hands-on waste stream management and creative problem-solving, SEE helps teachers and students use sustainability principles in the classroom and throughout the entire school building. Daily practical applications of these principals guarantees that the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is no longer an abstract concept; it becomes an inherent part of our K-12 lives.

SEE envisions a world where every trashcan is replaced with recycling or compost bins that encourage us to think before we toss and allow us to cycle materials back into the system. Please feel free to pass this information on to teachers within your community.
http://www.talklessdomore.org

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Comprehensive Planning Article: Do Comprehensive Plans Matter?


This is a terrific and thoughtful piece by Della Rucker. Some of you may recognize her name from presentations at OCMA conferences. I find her blog to be very informative; she often asks the “tough” questions and also offers creative solutions and discussion.
Della Rucker, AICP, CEcD Do Comprehensive Plans matter? Should we bother? Why?:
http://wp.me/pEVgz-41

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Who Is The Most Important Person In Your Organization?


Who is the most important person in your organization? This is a question I have been thinking about for a long while. In any public organization we can come up with many answers. Many are obvious: elected officials, volunteers police officers, fire fighters, snow plow drivers (though usually only in the winter). What about the not-so-obvious?

How do we make judgements? Often we make our judgements of a person or organization on our first impression. When or how does a person first encounter City Hall? They either call or walk into the building. Now, who is the most important person in your organization? Of course, the answer is framed within the context of the question and the environment. In this case, my answer is: two people – both of equal stature. The custodian and the receptionist. Yes, the custodian and the receptionist. Maybe it is because during my college years and post-college years, I worked as a custodian for a city, and did custodial work in a restaurant (when I was not cooking — I was a pretty good short order cook, if I do say so myself). I learned from a gentleman named Henry Geller. Mr. Geller was the Head Custodian with the City of Mentor, many, many years ago. If a building or part of a building was not completely clean, Mr. Geller would let us know. He was detail oriented. He would put certain items, like a match or a nail, or small scrap of paper in a corner, or along a wall. If it was there the next morning, he would take us to it and lecture us about paying attention to the details.

An important part of Mr. Geller’s reasoning was that the public walked into City Hall to be served. He felt that the cleanliness of the building reflected the work of others in the building – for whom he had high regard – and he too was highly regarded by everyone in the building. He taught us that first impressions matter, and when someone walked into “his building” (and he said that with great pride), it needed to make a good impression. What impression does your building make? What do the floors, counters and yes, the restrooms say about your organization, and maybe by extension, your community. Does you custodian know how important he/she is?

It was once commented to me about how well one of my secretaries sounded on the phone – she was welcoming, warm, helpful, professional. This gentleman was the CEO of a company moving into Geneva, Ohio. I listened closely as he spoke about the service nature of a city and his first impression of the organization, because of the way Ms. Chinchar answered the phone and answered his questions. Mr. Gamble was very impressed. I don’t know f he saw me sweating or not – I thought Ms. Chinchar was very good at her job. – but I felt even better when he thought she was outstanding!! Another first impression. Many of us have taken the usual telephone training program: how to answer the phone, etc. But do the people (usually ladies) in our organization really know or get the feeling that managers, bosses, appreciate what they do? That they are the first impression upon a resident or a business? Their first impression speaks for the administration and the city council/township trustees.

Take some time to tell your secretary, administrative assistant and receptionist that you appreciate the first impression she/he makes for you and the organization.

So again, I’ll ask the question, who is the most important person in your organization?

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What is a City Manager?


I came across this article from my LinkedIn page — from Eric Norenberg, City Manager from Oberlin, Ohio. Terrific article, Eric.

http://www.publicceo.com/index.php/local-governments/151-local-governments-publicceo-exclusive/1909-the-privilege-and-responsibility-of-public-service-what-is-a-city-manager

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Personnel Evaluations and Their Relevance — Part 4


One of the most difficult and stressful events in any organization is the personnel evaluation. In our last three entries we discussed an overview of tying City Council Strategies to performance evaluations, working with Council to develop strategies and working with department heads to create Plans/Goals to carry out the Council Strategies.

There is still a step to talk through before we get to the exact evaluation considerations. The next step is to actualize the Council Strategies with the non-supervisory staff members. This may be the toughest part of the system. As managers, we are used to just assigning or delegating tasks to department heads and merely ask for their periodic updates so that we can forward them to the Council at a regularly appointed interval. We are going to be held accountable for the strategies and for department heads’ abilities to implement them AND for the communication of these items to employees performing the work. This has to be done carefully and respectfully with the department heads, as part of the direction will be for the department heads to work out the Plans/Goals with the employees of that department.

The City Manager should introduce the Council Strategies to the respective department employees. This conversation will include information on the city council retreat, and the delegation of creating Plans/Goals to accomplish the Strategies to the respective Department Heads, and providing the opportunity for the employees to participate in the Plan/Goal design and implementation. Of course, this is going to cause some consternation: “That’s not my job” and other such replies. In today’s economy there is not much that a manager can offer as an incentive for employees to participate in this type of program; further, when informed that the work will be tied directly to their annual performance evaluation, additional resistance may be encountered. As simplistic as it may sound, we just have to ask them to help us. Let them know that their help is needed to accomplish the City Council Strategy, appealing to the intrinsic aspect of their nature.

It should be pointed out that the supervisors may need to receive additional training to work with employee participation/involvement programs. Leaders within the rank and file may also need to be identified for such training as well. In organized labor environments, the union stewards/officers should be provided this opportunity. It cannot hurt to ask the Local to consider contributing to the training as well.

In the meantime, communication to the City Council that the employees will be directly involved in the creation of the Plan/Goal to meet the Strategies, will more than likely be positively received. It is an opportunity for both the Council and employees to appreciate the role of the other. The manager/administrator should meet directly with all agency employees. A colleague of mine shared the story that he provided a tri-fold brochure to employees to share the strategies developed by the City Council. He also provided a Q&A period with employees as well.

Once the Plan/Goals are created, there is a need to identify the core competencies needed to accomplish the tasks. A useful source is the ICMA website (http://icma.org/en/university/about/management_practices/overview). One way to look at the Core Competencies is to first consider the Strategies, Plans/Goals and identify the skills as needed to accomplish the specific tasks needed to meet the Plans/Goals.

More specifically core competencies can be defined as the characteristics of individual employees and making better use of their expertise and develop that expertise further. We can get a little confused at this point asking, “Well, isn’t that what is in an employee’s job description?” To a certain degree, the answer is, “Yes.” In this case, we are looking at the skills needed to (a) accomplish the aforementioned tasks related to the Plans/Goals; and (b) perform the tasks listed within the traditional position description. In some cases, it may be appropriate to re-write/update position descriptions with the newly identified core competencies. Also included with the new evaluation form should be the mission of the agency, the Strategy of the Council and the Plans/Goals appropriate to that department.

As part of the feedback loop, these personnel system changes should be shared with the City Council so that they can see the full relation of their strategies to the personnel system.

In these past few posts, we have walked through a Council Retreat, Strategy Development, creating Plans/Goals and then the evaluation program. As much as these have been meant to be prescriptive, they are also meant to engage discussion. Please feel free to respond and share your ideas and thoughts.

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Personnel Evaluations and Their Relevance — Part 3


In the July 15 entry, we described the retreat process with the City Council/Board of Township Trustees (or any governing board). One of the last points was a follow-up meeting with the Council, City Manager/Administrator and Department Heads, and consultant. For this meeting, the manager and the consultant will have prepared a Strategic Plan based upon the priorities identified by the city Council. The Strategic Plan will generally expand upon the priorities indicating responsible departments for implementation.

Again, it is important to have both the manager and consultant with the Council and department heads for the Strategy and Goals to be engrained in the organizational culture. Part of this reason is for the agenda to be followed and keep the focus on the Strategic Plan that Council has developed.

This meeting will provide an opportunity for the staff to fully understand the intent of the Council in addressing the Strategic Plan and begin a dialogue as to the possible parameters and roadblocks in achieving the strategy. This is where the “can do thinking” takes place.

Following this meeting, the manager and department heads will meet to translate those strategies into specific plans and goals for the respective departments to achieve (some priorities may transcend departmental boundaries). Each department is then responsible and accountable to implement plans to achieve the goals. This may be done by creating departmental teams, cross-functional teams or assigning strategy development to individuals. The manager and department head will be advised to create a date by which departments will report back to the Council on a quarterly basis. Often staff will respond in pointing out where there may be inabilities of that particular department to achieve the Council’s strategies. It is important to be aware of this issue, but at the same time change the question to: How do we achieve this program? How we will establish the goals and accountabilities to report back to Council and the Community? In the words of Gene Krebs, “Failure is not an option.”

The reports to Council will be obliged to include a section indicating that evaluation of staff members is being based upon the achievement of the Departmental Goals and Council Strategy in addition to progress on the Goals. It may be necessary to include copies of any new evaluation forms to the Council.

Most often the personnel carrying out the direct task can bring the most insight into the plans and how to achieve them. Department heads should meet with the department employees to discuss the City Council strategies and together develop plans to meet those goals.

Our next entry will be to discuss bringing the Strategy, and Goals to the employee/operational level.

Thanks again to Dave Anderson for his insights and editing.

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Personnel Evaluations and Their Relevance — Part 2


In my last entry I mentioned the idea of a Council (or Board of Township Trustees) having a retreat for the purpose of setting goals for an upcoming year (or years) and integrating it into the personnel evaluation system. From the retreat we work on attaching the goals to the personnel system.  In this entry I am going to discuss the Council Retreat portion of the process.

One method to consider for this goal setting session is using a SWOT analysis. Most of us know the acronym: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Some organizations will use an outside party to perform this type of study. For our purposes, I will suggest that the SWOT analysis be completed by the Council as the retreat process.

Depending on the style of the council and the manager/administrator, a decision will be need to be made whether to bring in a third party to facilitate the retreat, or whether the manager should facilitate the retreat.  However, I do not recommend that the manager take the role as the facilitator.  The reasons for this are two-fold: (1) Councils can veer far from the process, and not return to the agenda for the retreat, especially if one or more of the council members has a particular agenda or if the Council sees the retreat as an opportunity to deal with a present or pending crisis.  This can place the manager in a very difficult and anxious position (not to mention potentially job threatening); (2) an outside facilitator is usually provided a greater respect and latitude in keeping the Council from veering too far from the agenda.

Even with a facilitator, it is appropriate and necessary that the manager/administrator be present during the retreat.  The purpose of this is two-fold: (1) the manager can answer any technical questions, and (2) the manager will need to be able to explain the Strategic Plan from the retreat to the staff members so that they can prepare the Implementation Plan for the Council and community and create the metrics to be able to report back to the Council and community.

To prepare the Council for the retreat, they should receive a report explaining the purpose for the retreat, the alignment of the Strategic Plan they are creating with the Implementation Plan to be prepared by the staff and the alignment of the personnel goals to the Strategic Plan.  Secondly, the SWOT process itself needs to be defined. The general parameters of Strengths and Weaknesses can be the organization or the community, or both. It is crucial to make this distinction for both the manager and the council. The issues of Opportunities and Threats need to be considered as activities outside of the political /geographic boundaries. This too needs to be explicitly explained.

The report should also include any enabling legislation describing the duties, responsibilities and powers of the legislating body. The reason for enabling legislation, if for no other is to serve as a reminder to the governing board of its parameters of governance and role in governing the city (see comments to last entry by Dr. Lawrence Keller).

The Process

The Nominal Group Technique works very well in this goal-setting process. The facilitator will need some flip charts, masking tape, magic markers and sticker dots.

The facilitator will engage the council in a round-robin process of defining the Strengths of the organization and community, writing down the exact words being used by each council person on the flip charts. As each piece of paper becomes filled, the sheets are taped on a wall. In this round-robin process, it is best to discourage any “cross-talk.” The purpose is to list the issues not discuss them, other than asking each person to clarify their comments if there are questions as to the meaning of the comment. Each person can, and at some point will, “pass” as he/she will have run out of comments. Once every one has passed or run out of comments, proceed through the Weaknesses of the organization and community.

Return to the Strengths list. The facilitator will review the responses looking for common ground or topic areas. As these are identified, there needs to be agreement from the council members that some of the topic areas are related; these areas will then be consolidated and re-listed. The list will then be reduced based on the number of common areas. Some comments will not be able to consolidated and must be included in the new list.

Repeat the process with the Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats portion of the SWOT analysis.  Again, remind the council that the latter two are related to issues outside of the organization/community.

Once this is completed, it is time to give each council member eight (8) of the dot stickers. The idea is to vote for, prioritize the Strengths of the community/organization.  The council members apply the dots to the items on the list.  They can place one dot by eight (8) items, or they can place more than one dot by any of the items.  It is important in this voting process that there be no talking, lobbying, etc.  This process will then be repeated with the Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  At the conclusion of each round of voting, the facilitator should review the results with the Council before the next round of voting takes place.

At the conclusion of the retreat will be twenty (20) priorities (five from each category), which will be the job of the manager and facilitator to craft into a final report creating a Strategic Plan for the Council to achieve in the following year or defined number of years.

A follow-up meeting with the facilitator and the Council should be held to review the document with the manager and senior staff.  It is important for the Council to formally adopt the Strategic Plan.  The adoption of the Strategic Plan should then guide all members of the staff as to the direction of the governing body and by extension, the community.  I will describe the next step in the process in a follow up entry in two weeks.

But first I need to acknowledge my friend, consulting partner and Editor: Dave Anderson for his edits and suggestions on this topic.  Thanks Dave.

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