Monthly Archives: January 2012

“It’s easy to do nothing.”

I spend a great deal of my time speaking with leaders of local governments about improving performance of municipal operations.  This week, I was speaking with a business administrator of a small city and he acknowledged that it’s not uncommon for a town to be delivering services that could be improved or made more efficient.  What he said next, surprised me, as if exposing a dirty little secret of managers, “It’s easy to do nothing and just let it be, and that has been the strategy of many towns for the past 15 years.” Today, it’s a completely different story.  With revenue shortages and little ability to raise taxes to cover budget shortfalls, administrators must find new ways to become efficient or risk having to stop delivering a service.   I just learned of one New Jersey town that reduced garbage pickup to once a week.  As you might imagine, the residents are not happy and very concerned about the smells that will likely come, when the weather gets warm this…

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Is there a perfect measure?

Bob Behn, a cut-to-the-chase guy, whose work I have followed because of his longstanding efforts (and pithy comments) in promoting performance leadership, cautions not to get wrapped up in perfecting your measures.  Behn is known for promoting the Citi-Stat review model as a mechanism to improve performance in government. But as important as managing with data is, I believe the most important thing is to start measuring.  In the closing of Behn’s recent management report, focused on distortions that may be created by measures,, Behn writes that there are no perfect measures.  He argues the best approach is to start with a few good measures, not perfect ones.  Be aware of their flaws. Expect your indicators to be criticized and improved while your organization learns about improving performance. I spend a great deal of my time thinking, developing and researching measures for inclusion in the Revelstone Compass system.  I’m trying to identify and develop measures that would be most relevant for small to moderate size municipalities, and to define…

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“What gets measured, gets done.”

Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured, gets done.”  If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure, and if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage or improve it.  What eludes most local governments is how to create performance management systems that align measures with what they are trying to accomplish: How well are we doing? Are we meeting our goals? Are our citizens and stakeholders satisfied? What improvements or changes are necessary? So how do you get started?  It doesn’t have to be a daunting task!  Successful performance management systems adhere to the following guiding principles: Appoint a champion.  Leadership is critical in designing and deploying effective performance management systems. Identify the key activities and outcomes to measure.  Revelstone’s Compass makes it simple by providing a library of more than 500 key metrics to choose from. Involve the people who are responsible for the work to be measured and give them a sense of ownership. Establish accountability for results that is clearly assigned and well-understood. Establish…

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