This is my pre-election post on government, and I promise to stay focused on performance and not politics. There’s enough hot air being expended by the candidates and pundits and I don’t need to add to the global warming. However, it does seem like a good time for all of us to evaluate the return we are getting from government and frankly, ask for more. And by more, I don’t mean more money or even government. I mean quality, performance, results, and yes, even a bit of good old-fashioned customer treatment.
A great example of government delivering on its responsibilities for its customers…yes, I said customers, is 2007 Malcolm Baldrige Award Winner, Coral Springs, Florida. The city of Coral Springs won a Baldrige Award for Performance Excellence, a feat that is remarkable for even the best of businesses.
A little bit of background on this post. I am working with a talented group of MBA students at DePaul University in Chicago studying the Baldrige program as a framework for performance excellence. We are looking at the practices and results of great companies in all sectors of the economy, and the idea of performance excellence in government seemed like a fitting pre-election topic. As a group, we struggled to recall if and when we had ever felt like “customers” much less “satisfied customers” in our dealings with our community governments.
As an aside, most people mistakenly associate Baldrige with just quality, when in fact it is one of the most comprehensive programs in the world in challenging and guiding organizations to become great at creating value for stakeholders. Of course, quality in all facets is at the center of this high performance formula. Coral Springs is the only municipal government to win this award to-date, and offers some powerful lessons for all of our communities as we head to the polls to elect our leaders next week.
A few noteworthy points:
- Coral Springs truly views its citizens and businesses as customers and designs all of its services to maximize customer satisfaction. From Saturday hours to their “City Hall in the Mall” facility that provides added convenience for people going about their normal business.
- The city is a model of strategic planning effectiveness, engaging stakeholders in the development of a strategic plan and importantly, the development and execution of this plan around clearly defined goals and objectives.
- Continuous improvement is inherent in this community’s emphasis on measurement and control of critical processes. From customer satisfaction to employee and volunteer satisfaction, to focusing on measuring, monitoring and improving around the processes that create value for citizens and businesses, Coral Springs runs like you would expect the most quality conscious business to run.
- The results are clear and visible for all to see in the form of ongoing reporting of key performance indicators to remarkable achievements in delivering what the customers deemed important in a high-performance community. From schools to traffic to safety, the community appears to have achieved results that most communities will envy.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
If you are intrigued and want more tangible information on what a city government looks like when it clearly identifies its customers and holds itself accountable to creating value for those customers, take a look at the Baldrige Video at the city’s website. Do yourself a favor and watch the long-form of the video, preferably before you head off to the polls to elect or re-elect your city officials. Better yet, send these officials a link and ask them if they understand who their customers are and what you expect. Perhaps if we all hold our officials accountable, we might just get a reasonable return for our investment. About now, any form of positive return would be good.