Saturday, November 22, 2008

Big Picture

Earlier this summer, ICMA-RC sent out a DVD interview Bob O'Neil did with Dan Pink. I saw clips at the SEI seminar in July. I watched this again this morning waiting for the temperature to rise so I could work outside.

One thing that struck me was Pink's vision for the times we are now experiencing. I imagine everyone will be looking at the budget detail as we get ready to close the fiscal year. We will also be looking at detail as we think about the recession's affects on our community and organizations. Pink talked about the successful manager is one who operates as a symphony conductor. Having been in bands and orchestras in school and then thinking about conductors in relation to our profession.

Pink suggests that we take a big picture look at our organizations. What struck me today is the value of that in reacting to a downturn in the economy.

The focus of our work in the coming year or two is keeping our organizations together. Key to that success is looking at the big picture--the whole.

I imagine we will be asked by our governing bodies to deal with the "micro" much more than we want. I think it will be best for us all if we pull our heads up and look around at the big picture a little more often.

I remember giving advice a few years ago about the economy and suggesting that we try to be ready for action when the economy shifts. This is, in my view, looking at the big picture and moving our organizations to be ready for more positive economic times.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

10 things to do to be a better manager

there is an interesting list at the "About Manangement" blog site. It lists 10 things to do to be a better manager.

There are reference links to go to throughout the post. It is interesting.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reading Drucker

I wrote about buying "A Class With Drucker" last time. It got me to reread the "Effective Executive" again. This is my third time of reading the book and will probably do so a 4th and a 5th time.

As I read this time, I thought about how to include it in the Municipal Leadership Academy class that Don Osenbaugh and I teach. The League forgot to tell me it is not on the schedule this year so I have a bit more time to work out a new plan.

If you haven't read the book recently, I recommend that you spend some time with it. I guess that the older I get the more I see in the book that I missed in the two earlier reads. I plan to outline it the next time through and pull its nuggets out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Class with Drucker

I just finished “A Class With Drucker” tonight. It is certainly a book to read again. It was well written. Although he didn’t write on leadership here are eight points that he taught in is classes and writings.

1. Integrity first
2. Know your stuff
3. Declare your expectations
4. Show uncommon commitment
5. Expect positive results
6. Take care of your people
7. Put duty before self
8. Get out in front

Buy this book for Christmas for yourself.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I received this from Don Osenbaugh last week. It comes from Amazing Cities newsletter.

Bad things sometime happen in spite of everything we do. Although we can't change the situation, we can change how we react to what happens. When the snow is falling and three of the six snow plows are broken, don't spend time crying. Make a plan and get busy. Get out front and don't let them see you sweat. Rearrange the schedules and communicate. You will find that a positive attitude can take the place of five or six snow plows.

· Get organized. So many cities are like so many individuals. Junk stacks up and takes up more and more space and time. Do a "house cleaning". Get rid of old equipment and unneeded vehicles. Some cities have discovered that they can significantly reduce insurance costs by cleaning out unused or obsolete equipment.

· Make meetings enjoyable. Sure there are serious issues facing your city, but treating everything as a crisis wears down even the most positive people. Lighten Up. You will find that even the most hardened citizen will soften if the mood is a little lighter. Be serious when it is warranted, but don't conduct your meetings as the Watergate hearings.

Surround your city with inspiration. On your website, in City Hall, at your parks, place positive messages that create a feeling that your city is a place that cherishes positive attitudes. Instead of a sign that says "Do Not Litter" consider one that states, "Our Citizens Love A Clean City". Doesn't the message still come across?
Write handwritten notes to citizens and employees. We send so many form letters that citizens feel disconnected from the governing process. You would be surprised how many positive comments I receive when I send a handwritten note to a citizen. Don't forget to acknowledge younger citizens for their accomplishments.

· Practice Empathy. Try to understand what it is like to be in someone else's shoes. Reflect back to them how you think they are feeling, such as "It sounds like that was a difficult situation for you." Remember that empathy does not mean that you accept blame, only that you can relate to how someone feels. Let's face it, we can all relate to a basement full of raw sewage, even when the engineer says that it wasn't the city's fault

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Management vs. Leadership

I am back at the helm ready to do more postings. My move to Hillsboro is complete but I still have things to put away. I guess that will never end.

Today's topic is Management vs. leadership. It has been a topic of discussion/debate for a long time. Here is a site that takes another shot at the debate.

Post a response with your thoughts!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Rumor Mill

Awhile back, we had a question on the KACM Listserv about the rumor mill and I got a neat answer from Howard Partington (City Administrator, Great Bend). I asked if I could post his response on the Blog. Here it is"

"In all my years as an administrator, I don't think I have found a really good way to combat rumors. I could write a book various aspects relating to rumors.

"Let me tell you about what I finally decided to do relative to people writing letters to the editor that are false or misleading. It took an especially nasty letter that caused me to take the action that I took. First of all, I feel my responsibility is to my governing body so I what I have done is to create( with approval of the Mayor) an agenda item at the end of each council meeting that is under the heading of City Administrator's Update. The final portion of my report is what I call "Fact or Fiction".

"I may or may not have a fact or fiction report, but always include it in the agenda item as a possibility. If someone has written something in the paper that is false or misleading, I may go ahead and prepare a written document for the governing body that I read and hand out to the governing body and media at the council meeting. Again, I want the governing body to know if something has been misrepresented.

"On all occasions that I have presented my fact or fiction, the newspaper has reprinted my report exactly as I have prepared it. I have never responded to a letter to the editor by another letter, but this way, I am able to inform my governing body and at the same time tell the public if what was written was true, false or a misrepresentation. After the first time I presented fact or fiction, seven of the eight council members thanked me for standing up for the city, the other council member was the one that wrote the letter.

"One interesting side note, one regular letter to the editor writer called and ask me about an issue as he didn't want to end up in my fact or fiction report."

See you all at the Conference in November.