Last month I had the privilege of attending Denver Peak Academy’s Black Belt training. The City of Goodyear is aggressively pursuing a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, and I was sent to the training to become an additional in-house resource for our organization.
The week was fantastic and packed with learning. We discussed the relentless march to transform our organizational cultures, practiced tools to uncover process improvements, and connected with local government professionals from around the country. I even got to participate in a field visit to the Denver Zoo! The team at the Peak Academy is passionate about helping individuals and communities do better. Their curriculum helped participants to explore the “why” of the work we do in local government and provided dozens of examples of “how” we can eliminate waste and innovate. Each session was highly engaging and left my head spinning with excitement to bring what I learned back to Goodyear.
After learning dozens of tools and new perspectives, three big ideas have stuck with me:
- Just get started
It’s easy to become paralyzed by the nuances of analysis and planning. However, what you actually do is what has an impact. Your ideas do not need to be perfect to be effective, but they do need to be implemented. Take some risk and get to work!
- Build on the bright spots
You can’t transform an entire city all at once. Start with departments and people that are ready for change and eager for improvement. Accumulating wins has a multiplier effect in other areas.
- Communicate your outcomes—both successes and failures
Constantly tell stories of what is working and what isn’t. Be honest and open about the risks you take, and create a safe environment for others to share their wins and losses. Continuous improvement is exactly what it says—continuous. While it means that our work always has room to get better, it also requires you to pause to either celebrate or reflect often. Sharing progress helps to maintain momentum and provides opportunities for learning.
While I already had some background in continuous improvement and performance excellence work, the Peak Academy Black Belt training created a framework to help me be more strategic and intentional in my approach. If you’re looking for a one-stop training to inspire and equip you to improve your work, head to Denver.
To learn more about the Denver Peak initiative, visit: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/mayors-office/programs-initiatives/peak-performance/peak-academy.html
I also highly recommend reading Peak Performance by Brian Elms and J.B Wogan (https://www.amazon.com/Peak-Performance-Denvers-Boosting-Changing/dp/0983373353/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498668218&sr=1-4&keywords=peak+performance). It’s a quick read that will give you a front row seat to how Denver has engendered a culture of performance improvement one step at a time.
Pam Weir has been the assistant to the city manager in Goodyear, Ariz., since April 2016. Prior to this, she served as the management analyst and budget officer in Sierra Vista, Ariz. for two years.
Weir’s previous municipal government experience includes service as the management assistant in Fort Collins, Colo., where she helped write the organization’s first enterprise-wide strategic plan. She also served on a temporary assignment with the town of Estes Park, Colo., in 2013, assisting the town in disaster recovery efforts from the autumn floods. Prior to her time in Colorado, she was the management intern for Avondale, Ariz.
Weir holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Management from Arizona State University, where she was also named a Marvin Andrews Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. She is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA), and Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Weir also serves as the chair for the Alliance for Innovation’s NextERA Advisory Group, representing the next generation of local government managers to promote innovation and collaboration in the profession.
Having grown up in the Grand Canyon State, Weir is passionate about helping to shape the long-term future of Arizona communities, both through her local government service and other volunteer activities.