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Inter-Departmental Cooperation Saves Millions & Improves Service

B STATE case study city government


The Development Services Division of a small city had recently changed managers. The new manager was surprised by the lack of collaboration between department leaders at all levels causing inefficiencies that squandered both time and money. The frustration had hit the staff too. Morale was low, absenteeism was high, and grievances averaged one to two a month. All of this took time away from the public they served – slowing their responsiveness and productivity to a crawl. Something had to be done.

B STATE Approach

A B STATE Strategic Roadmap was developed. It called for starting with the directors, managers and first-line supervisors all in the same session; the key need being to breakdown silo thinking and behavior quickly. However, the Division Manager was concerned it might be too much to include leaders from all division in one session, so the effort was started with only three of the five departments.

B STATE approaches work regardless of the size of the group or can be implemented with one part of the organization and still integrate others parts at a later point.

STEP 1Implemented a B STATE Leadership Accountability System for all directors, managers, and supervisors in 3 of 5 departments in a 2-day session

The first three departments agreed upon a common Picture of Success and created new Collective Habits of Execution. They then chose priorities for both their new habits of execution and cross-functional initiatives to improve customer service and responsiveness. The manager was so impressed with the shift, she immediately scheduled a session to integrate the other two departments into the system.

STEP 2 – Integrated the remaining two departments and created a culture change for the entire organization, including employees

The other two departments easily adopted and refined the original group’s work. Then each department came up with their own Priorities for Improvement and Departmental Collective Habits of Execution and utilized this to create a culture change for the entire division.

Step 3 – Formal Measurement Session to evaluate progress for both results and culture

Immediate Culture Shift

  • Leaders at all levels took ownership in breaking down silos and improving responsiveness with their own departments
  • Staff were immediately involved and participated in driving change efforts
  • People at all levels immediately began collaborating, sharing information, and planning improvements together across departments, including sharing resources
  • Resistance to change decreased dramatically and almost overnight

Rapid Breakthrough Results

The results were incredible and transformational.

In 6 months…

  • The division set up a one-stop shop for the public, which reduced effort and time spent trying to get the public to the right department
  • Time to commission new subdivisions for development was greatly reduced
  • Expenses were reduced across the departments, totaling a savings of 1 million dollars
  • Additional savings were realized in lighting cost while also reducing greenhouse gas emission
  • Staff morale increased, absenteeism decreased, and employees showed up to work on time
  • Grievances immediately dropped from 1 or 2 a month down to 0.
  • A major effort to develop managers was launched so top leaders could put more time toward cross-functional problem-solving, benefitting staff and the public
  • Meetings were more effective – reducing the number of meetings and the time spent in them by solving real, cross-functional problems rather than just giving updates
  • Public Works & Emergency Services began sharing resources and employees, leading to even more year-over-year cost savings

The Development Services Division experienced such great success that eventually all divisions in the municipality implemented the B STATE Leadership Accountability System. They not only experienced similar results to the first division, but they also began to work together across divisions, sharing resources and best practices.

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