Connecting state and local government leaders
Break down your silos and ditch your mountains of metrics in favor of an interactive system.
It's a basic rule of cooking, and it also applies to the public sector: All ingredients you throw into the pot must work together in harmony. Otherwise, you end up with an unappetizing outcome that no one wants to consume.
For government organizations seeking to optimize performance management and accomplish their strategic goals, the three key ingredients that all must work together are people, ideas, and data.
In a perfect world, people across every department would be the source of innovative ideas that push an organization forward. Then, data would provide the "you are here" map that helps turn those ideas into actions.
For most organizations, however, this just isn't the case. Connecting their key ingredients is a tall—but not impossible—task.
Reconnecting the Disconnected Organization
In many local governments, people tend to be siloed off from one another, and everyone collects his own mountain of data using disparate technology systems. Strategic plans and KPI metrics tend to be manually entered into static Excel spreadsheets or Word documents that are filed away and only looked at during quarterly — or worse, annual — reviews only because they aren't useful or shareable on an everyday basis. Valuable metrics (and the insights they offer) easily fall through the cracks when the technology doesn't exist to be able to manage and update activity against a metric or goal on a daily basis.
On top of that, most organizations lack collaborative, cross-departmental venues that encourage people to share innovative ideas and shared activity against a goal or metric. This leads to an under-engaged workforce that has little incentive to engage in solutions-oriented brainstorming and proactive involvement in a strategic plan.
Thanks to modern-day strategic planning software, it's easier than ever to bring an organization's people, ideas, and data together to work in harmony toward common goals. Granting a staff access to these systems allows entire governments — from top to bottom — to holistically understand their universal missions and values. Meanwhile, leaders can analyze and manage the progress their teams are making toward these goals from an easy-to-use dashboard.
With such a system in place, the people of an organization will feel increased motivation to present ideas and solutions to common problems. The real-time collaboration and added transparency made possible by the software will encourage these ideas to flow freely and be shared throughout the entire organization rather than just one department. Those ideas can then be turned into measurable goals through the collection of strategic data that specifically pertains to your mission.
Once you break down your silos and ditch your mountains of metrics in favor of an interactive system, your people, ideas, and data will all work together to achieve (and exceed) their strategic goals.
The city of Scottsdale, Arizona, for example, recently adopted strategic planning software to move away from its manual, spreadsheet-centric performance tracking of the past. Today, it uses a robust cloud-based platform that consolidates data into a centralized dashboard, allowing the entire staff to accurately and efficiently assess its progress toward its goals. This results in a more engaged workforce in which everyone collaborates to achieve key results and understands the impact of their contributions.
Maximize Your Efforts
Here are four best practices to keep in mind when optimizing your performance management through the use of strategic planning software:
- Don't forget about those you serve. Breaking down the silos within your organization is an undeniably important part of aligning your teams, but another great capability of strategic planning software is how it can also eliminate the barriers that stand between governments and the citizens they serve. Transparently sharing your goals — and your metrics — with constituents through interactive open data portals creates a whole new level of engagement, trust, and municipal alignment.
- Prioritize wisely. It's important to focus your attention and resources on the most crucial tasks first, so using your software to prioritize your initiatives is key. Often, your most important endeavors are those shared by many other government organizations, such as creating a transparent and accountable government, improving the economic environment, or focusing on future growth. Complete the most pressing tasks before tackling those that are relatively less important.
- Align the "why" with the "how." Everyone in the entire organization should understand the "why" and the "how" of your overall strategic goals and desired outcomes. These details should be boiled down to the departmental level so everyone understands how their unique contributions feed into the big picture. Promote collaboration, and have conversations with employees regarding important metrics and specific actions they can take to optimize results. You want every employee to understand the true impact of his or her day-to-day actions, and you want to make sure each one understands how success will be measured.
- Make it easy. The software you select ought to enable government leaders to easily create and manage plans, measure performance, and analyze success. Furthermore, employees and citizens alike should also have the ability to easily track the organization's progress in real time through a common reporting framework. Providing equal access to an interactive, organization-wide view of performance data greatly boosts transparency, collaboration, and government accountability.
Governments are striving for the best performance management, but they are often hindered by silos of information, a lack of understanding of organizational goals, a lack of accountability, and employees who are unclear about how their roles contribute to the big picture.
Similar to how individual ingredients don't make a dish unless they are strategically mixed together, disconnected people, ideas, and data can't improve performance management until they are aligned though modern-day technology.
Erin Latham founded Mo'Mix Solutions with the goal of delivering software and services that drive better outcomes for the public sector and education.