Reorganization Model: A New Vision for Kelowa, British Columbia

Article excerpt

In 2008, the city manager of Kelowna, British Columbia, was ready to undertake a reorganization to embody his vision for the organization: to be the best mid-sized city pursuing the goals of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental) in its policy and actions. Every change taken underscored the city's new focus: "feople First."uPeople first" means that services and management focus on people, and that they consider everyone who is affected by a decision and treat them fairly, whether they are staff, citizens, or visitors.

The city's new strategic direction consisted of three main objectives. First, it wanted to provide superior service to citizens. The goals associated with that objective were satisfying citizen's services needs and delivering value for money. The city also wanted to attract and retain quality employees, with a goal of building and augmenting employee excellence and developing expertise to meet service standards. The third objective was to develop Kelowna as a sustainable community, which involved protecting and enhancing the city's natural environment, its economic health, and the quality of life of its citizens. Previously, the city had narrowly focused environmental sustainability in a single department, but it now wanted to develop a culture in which the concept of sustainability permeates every department.

THE VISION BEHIND THE CHANGE

Citizen satisfaction is the cornerstone of all three objectives. Employees who are treated well are satisfied and committed, and in turn treat their customers well, which leads to citizens trusting that the local government is working in their best interest. Factors that can lead to employee satisfaction and commitment are a clear career path, fair pay and benefits, the opportunity to do work that is of value to the community, a good work environment, and a positive perception of management. Factors that make citizens satisfied with the service they receive include timeliness, competence, courtesy, fairness, and a reasonable outcome. Citizens' trust and confidence in public institutions is often directly associated with their most recent personal experience. Knowing this makes every touch point equally important, regardless of the expertise required or complexity of the service.

Citizen-Focused Services. Citizen-focused services are not limited to the basics of roads, parks, recreation, water, and sewer. They also extend to culture, affordable housing, and ensuring a sustainable community. The city has an important, emerging leadership role in more than just traditional local government services. Addressing a broad issue like climate change has moved the city to develop strategies and provide resources in the short term to achieve a longterm payoff. Staff are working to reduce the city's carbon footprint through a number of initiatives that set the pace for development and individual citizens.

An objective, still to come under the new structure, is linking more directly into neighborhoods. Healthy neighborhoods build great cities. Using surveys and other statistical data will help the city better target services to their needs. The concept of community building, where citizens accept some level of personal responsibility for their neighborhood, can be partnered with initiatives like recreation programming, alternative and recreational transportation corridors, and discussions about city plans for their areas.

People-Focused Management. People-focused management means always considering how staff is treated. The city seeks to recruit the best and to retain the employees it has invested in. Retention is the key to recruitment, an issue for all jurisdictions, as public service is not the first thing most people think of when planning their careers. Therefore, city officials knew they needed to consider:

* Needs and motivating factors for different generations. Kelowna is in the early stages of paying close attention to intergenerational differences. …