City Launches New Decision Making Strategy

Chula Vista California is a city with 243,000 residents located seven miles from San Diego. The City Council of Chula Vista has adopted a new strategic approach for making decisions. The goal of the strategy is to link every action in the city to a goal laid out in a strategic plan.

The City’s Continuous Improvement Manager and a subcommittee spent five months studying the functions of various departments and talking to residents about what kinds of services and programs they want from their city government. Through this process five goals were identified:

• Strong and secure neighborhoods

• Healthy community

• Economic vitality

• Connected community

• Operational excellence

The plan is to have every action, down to an individual employee’s daily work, directly promote one of the above objectives.

In a news article Mayor Cheryl Cox and the four council members praised the plan. “I want to say ‘Bravo,’ because I love this idea of everybody being all on the same page,” said council member Pamela Bensoussan, who recalled a decade ago observing city departments with competing interests who would clash in “a counterproductive way.” “My take-away is that I love the flow chart approach where everything leads to something else, so you can follow the whole philosophy that leads to implementation.”

I have never even heard of Chula Vista, which is located just seven miles from the Mexican border but the city appears to be doing many things right:

– They have a professional city manager overseeing staff and day to day operations;
– They are dedicated to continuous improvement of their operations and have a staff member responsible for overseeing continuous improvement efforts;
– They have developed an overall strategic plan with identified objectives;
– The City Council prepares an annual plan to guide their efforts;
– Performance measures are being developed for managers to track progress in achieving goals;
– Performance results will be reported to council members so that they can make informed decisions regarding staffing, budgets and future goals.

The City of Buffalo and the County of Erie do not have any of the above mentioned items in place to guide decision making. What do you think about the Chula Vista’s decision making strategy?


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