The Department of Public Works
What are you going to do if there is a new mayor in town who will not brook mistakes or trouble, you have only a few years on the job and you are picked to lead a 1200 person organization over the 20 year veteran who was next in line and the residents are up in arms about your department? This was a person with both courage and vision so he opted to become a learning organization.
Most people had been there 15-30 years and were proud of getting their hands dirty in the mud and water of San Francisco maintaining the roads, sewers of that city. The architects were not seen as being a ‘real’ part of the organization, yet that is where the new leader came from.
During a three-day strategic planning meeting where 80 people were invited we ran out of materials as the attendees call others to share that they were actually having input. People came in every day to participate. They created 10 teams, wrote their charters, planned their next move to realize the vision they had created together!
A Scorecard was created for their customers and leadership development and Bureau goals were developed from what the customers wanted and needed.
The entire organization met in an optional open meeting once a month to hear from the residents via letters, share their team achievements and issues and learn about new tools and next steps.
Several of the Bureaus had their own strategic planning session and a Round Table was held for the vendors. This had never been done and people were sure that no one would attend and if they came they wouldn’t stay. The attendees were overjoyed that they finally had a chance to talk to each other and the leadership to clarify issues and come to agreement.
Each of the five Bureaus made a presentation about their achievements and plans every six months. The lead team (consisting of the heads of the Bureaus and the accounting department) began to learn together and act as a team.
In the end the Department dramatically improved the relationships with each other, their customers, the residents and were voted as the 11th most improved in the nation!
Who could ask for more?
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