Inter-Departmental Cooperation Saves Millions & Improves Service
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.
In 6 months…
- The division set up a one-stop shop for the public, which reduced the effort and time spent guiding the public to the right department
- The time dropped for commissioning new subdivisions for development
- 1 million dollars was saved by reducing expenses across the departments
- 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.
- In order for top leaders to put more time toward cross-functional problem solving, a major effort to develop new managers was launched, benefiting both the staff and the public
- Meetings became 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
- 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 the 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 – almost overnight
Key to Success
A B STATE Strategy Execution Roadmap was developed. It called for starting with the directors, managers, and first-line supervisors all in the same session. The key need was to break down silo thinking and behavior quickly.
The B STATE Approach works regardless of the size of the group. It can be implemented with one part of the organization and still integrate the other parts at a later point. In this case, the Division Manager was concerned it might be too much to include leaders from all divisions in one session, so the effort was started with only three of the five departments. Afterwards, they realized they could have done all five groups together!
B STATE Approach
1) Implemented a B STATE Leadership Team Accountability System for all directors, managers, and supervisors in 2 days
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 that she immediately scheduled a session to integrate the remaining two departments into the system.
2) Integrated the remaining two departments and created a culture change for the entire organization
The remaining two departments easily adopted and refined the original group’s work. Each department then came up with their own Priorities for Improvement and Departmental Collective Habits of Execution. They utilized this to create a culture change for the entire division.
3) Held a Formal Measurement Session to evaluate progress for both business results and culture