Get the Right People at the Table
September 23, 2019 by
There’s no silver bullet to running the most efficient, high-functioning, 100%-customer-satisfaction-guaranteed, government organization. But, making sure the right people are at the table is a good start.
“You know, ‘if you build it, they will come,’” said Tim Moreland, director of the Chattanooga Office of Performance Management and Open Data. “The idea was we just needed to get those dashboards out there in people’s hands and then they will use it, and everything will be great. Lies.”
Building dashboards without engaging users was a mistake, he said during a recent Socrata Performance Community of Practice online meetup. Performance programs are successful not because of the technology or dashboards behind them. It hinges on people.
That’s why, when government organizations of any size look to start a performance management program, the most crucial element off the start is gathering your team and making sure the right people are at the table.
While there are many organizational models to choose from, the most successful programs share these common participants: a principal (such as a governor, mayor, county executive, or other elected or appointed leader), a department of program lead, a performance lead, an analyst, a department or agency contact (such as a research director, database manager, or chief of staff), government employees, and the public. This framework is outlined in the new Socrata white paper, Guide to Effective Performance Management.
These positions may scale up and down. A large state may dedicate multiple analysts to various subject areas, while a small municipality may function with one staffer to support the performance lead. Likewise, the number of agency contacts will vary depending on the range of data being managed.
Our practical advice is this:
Launch a performance management program to solve a particular problem. Once you’ve gathered your team, then get started on setting goals and tracking performance with whatever data you have.
Oliver Wise, Socrata Data Academy director and former director of the New Orleans Office of Performance and Accountability, recommends organizations “start with the basics and leave room for improvement” at every meeting.
“The important part is to just get started with something that matters that will show ROI,” Wise says. “You’re not going to hit it out of the park on the first swing but discipline yourself to make improvements to your analysis as you proceed.”
Moreland takes the “sandwich method,” a top-down and bottom-up approach.
“You need to be hearing the message from the leadership at the top, but sometimes it doesn’t get all the way to the bottom,” Moreland said. “And sometimes, the best solutions come from the bottom.”