Strategies for Successful Strategic Plan Implementation

What factors help determine the success of strategic plan implementation? Dr. David Mitchell, assistant professor at the School of Public Administration at the University of Central Florida is conducting research to find out. He recently spoke at the Florida League of Cities 2014 Legislative Conference and provided an update on his progress. 

Dr. Mitchell measures implementation success by looking at three factors. First, what projects did the city complete? Second, did it exceed the proposed timeframe for the project? Finally, did the project exceed its budget? The current study included 218 different projects from 44 different strategic plans. Of those initiatives 67% of projects were completed within three years.  The average cost was 110% of the original budget, and the average time was 130% of the original schedule.

The study came to four conclusions. The first was that, “one size does not fit all.” Essentially, various projects call for different implementation strategies.

The second conclusion was “implementation funding matters.” This variable was critical to the success of all projects. The study found however, that “dedicated implementation funding is provided only 33% of the time.”

The third states, “The City Manager (or CAO) can make or break implementation.” Specifically, there are some projects in which city manager involvement is detrimental to project success and there are other projects in which city manager involvement is crucial to success. In general, projects that are low in complexity fared well without City manager involvement and those that were high in complexity fared well with some city manager involvement.

The final conclusion was that while, “one size does not fit all… Municipalities are using one-size-fits-all implementation strategies.”

Management Partners assists many local governments with strategic planning. We usually include an Implementation Action Plan to help ensure progress moves forward in a meaningful way. As practitioners, we encourage that each project have only one leader. It is important to consolidate leadership so there is no confusion moving forward about who is responsible for implementation.

MMANC Annual Conference

While attending the 2014 Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC) Annual Conference, I listened to a thought-provoking session hosted by Katy Simon, former county manager of Washoe County, Nevada, on the topic of innovation in local government.

Innovation, as she described, can be thought of as how “a creative idea becomes realized.” She discussed how innovation in the areas of big data, globalization, the “internet of things,” transparency, climate change, resiliency planning, and more are helping to “reset” local government operations today and in the future. She emphasized to attendees that ideas need champions to make them reality, and that innovation isn’t simply about specific individuals, but rather an organization-wide competency.

Interesting research conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation on 100 Resilient Cities may be a useful resource for many.

MMANC Annual Conference

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC) Annual Conference in Sacramento, California.   Although the conference had a number of informative sessions, I found the panel discussion on the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) of 2013 to be particularly insightful. The resounding theme of the panel discussion was this: although PEPRA will contribute to long-term fiscal sustainability and will certainly help curb retirement costs in the coming decades, the immediate costs of retirement benefits will remain in the headlines and very much on the minds of city leaders around California.

Management Partners sends the MMANC Conference Chair Ryan Devore and the MMANC President Hazel Wetherford a big thank you for hosting such a wonderful event in Sacramento. 

Alliance for Innovation "Big Ideas" Conference

This past weekend, the Alliance for Innovation held their annual "Big Ideas" conference in Fort Lauderdale, and, as usual, they put on a great event. The theme this year was resiliency--environmental, economic, and emotional. About 75 individuals from across the country participated in a discussion about what resiliency means and how it is expressed in our communities. Futurist Rebecca Ryan kicked off the event and a number of speakers provided various perspectives, including David Kaufman from FEMA, Peter Kageyama (author of For the Love of Cities), and Robin White of the Meridian Institute. Through all of the stories and ideas shared among the group, I came away with an enriched idea of what resiliency is and how to attain it. By building relationships throughout our communities on a continuous basis and engaging each other in creating a shared vision, we create a web of interrelationships that provide the resiliency we need when confronted with unexpected crises or pervasive social problems. There were a lot of big ideas shared and, after this weekend, I'll bet many more will be put into action. 

2014 ICMA Annual Conference

The 100th ICMA Annual Conference opened with President Simon Farbrother, the Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, welcoming several thousand people who had traveled to Charlotte, NC for this significant event.   ICMA was created by eight people a century ago to promote professional city management, and in 2014, we are celebrating that achievement.   The keynote speaker was the inspiring storyteller and Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin who talked about leadership skills of Theodore Roosevelt and the lessons learned from both his and William Howard Taft’s presidencies, chronicled in her new book, The Bully Pulpit.   She skillfully wove city management into the stories of these leaders.  She authored The Team of Rivals, on which the movie Lincoln was based.   

 Among the leadership lessons she learned from Teddy Roosevelt were the ability to:  

  • Withstand adversity and motivate oneself to keep going after hardships
  • Inspire and motivate others
  • Surround yourself with capable people
  • Take criticism with grace and laugh at yourself
  • Inspire excellence and camaraderie by always doing your best; Roosevelt said, “Example is the most potent of all things.”
  • Set aside time daily for reading
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Negotiate but be willing to walk away or use authority to win when necessary to protect the public - “Speak softly and carry a big stick” and “don’t hit until you have to and then when you do, hit hard”
  • The higher you are in office, the more it’s important to get out into the field and see for yourself what is going on
  • Speak plainly to relate to people
  • Relax and replenish your energies and renew your spirit

Jerry Newfarmer, Amy Paul, Jan Perkins and Karen Davis  attended the dinner co-hosted by the International Hispanic Network and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators dinner held at the Levine Museum of the New South and heard an interesting presentation by the President of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Illinois.


© Management Partners, Inc. 2011