Strategic Planning Notes

Last month, Council and staff met at Ellwood House on a “retreat” to discuss the updating of the City of DeKalb’s strategic goals. One civilian showed up, and that person was John Salovesh, who graciously provided me with some of his notes. The delay in posting was partly due to work schedule constraints, partly to stubbornness: I wanted to use my table application, but needed to free up time to learn it.

Delightfully, the latest Council meeting agenda contains a summary of results (PDF pp. 84-94) and the meeting minutes (pp. 194-199), which the following notes and discussion can supplement.

Says Mr. Salovesh:

There were no handouts, signup sheets for public comments, or video broadcast equipment at the meeting that began, as all city council sessions do, with the pledge of allegiance. Bob Gleeson started off with a brief history of the Center for Governmental Studies at NIU, what his role as facilitator of the retreat would be, and an analysis/comparison of Private Value vs. Public Value:

Private Value: Transactions are in the private sector, where expectations aren’t so high; out of loop of public view.

Public Value: Perceived value of public service judged by people.

In the private sector, there are up to three components of a purchasing experience that one can judge: quality, value, and service. Operating on the assumption that nobody can be all things to all people, successful organizations produce acceptable performance in two of the areas and strive to be standouts in the third.

Quality leader: Offers products that are top-of-the-line, trendy; pushes boundaries for excellence, technological advancement, etc.

Value leader: Offers prices that are the lowest you can find, coupled with hassle-free service.

Customer service leader: Offers not only service with a smile, but devises policies and programs that are as flexible and customizable as possible in order to help solve problems.

I’ll bet that you can easily name companies that are leaders in each above-named area of market discipline!

DeKalb’s product is service, so if it’s to be a standout it has to be in this area. However, operations have to be highly centralized because of all the governmental regulations that have to be followed, which limits customization to a degree. There are ways to succeed in spite of the limitations, and it starts with a narrowing of focus: as in choosing one’s customers. This is one of the points CB has been trying to get at when discussing priorities. (Maybe more later.)

Meantime, here is the table on Brainstorm #1, which helped lead to updated strategic goals by the end of the day:

[table id=1 /]

(1) There was discussion of demographics, growth and projections/extrapolations. From a study by the leader in the field of demographics, Chris Nelson: The region will grow from 11.3 million to 20 million by 2040, and by 2090 to 50 million. Factors: climate change, pressure on the coasts, will make the Midwest more attractive/productive.