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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute

Accomplishing Your Objectives
New Year's Resolutions for Local Government (Vol. 2, Issue 1)
This issue is part 1 in the series on how to get things done.  This series will not only assist you in boosting your own productivity, it provides important steps in building a win-win organization.  And, that's a major part of achieving excellence.  At the start of each new year, many of us make 1 or more resolutions.  Since most such resolutions involve changes we wish to make in our personal lives, we may not associate them with our workplace.  But, just as making a resolution can begin the process of personal change, it can also begin the process of change at work.  In this issue, we discuss the importance of making resolutions for your organization and on what those resolutions should be based.  Before introducing our recommendations, we note 2 key points to keep in mind when making resolutions.  Then, we offer 5 resolutions for you to consider.  Recognizing that some of your organizations have completed a significant portion of the journey to excellence while others are just beginning, alternative resolutions are offered.  But, whether you adopt all of these resolutions, just 1 of them, or a resolution of your own, make this the year that you resolve to pursue the achievement of excellence in local government.

How to Accomplish What You Resolve (Vol. 2, Issue 3)
This issue is part 2 in the series on how to get things done.  In each new year, many resolutions are made but few are accomplished.  One reason so many fail is the lack of an effective plan.  If you don't have a plan, where should you begin?  What constitutes an effective plan?  What should you have before you prepare your plan?  What period should your plan cover?  How often should you update your plan?  This issue provides answers to each of those key questions.  It starts with an examination of the paradigms which support success.  Next, we see how to map out a course to take you from where you are today to the accomplishment of your resolution.  And then, we focus on the components of an effective plan.  Before finalizing your plan, there are 2 important steps you should take.  In addition, there are precautions to be taken when choosing your planning period.  This issue concludes with some thoughts on how often you should update your plan.  Whatever it is that you wish to accomplish, having an effective plan can make the difference between success and 'wait 'til next year'.

Monitoring Your Progress (Vol. 2, Issue 4)
This issue is part 3 in the series on how to get things done.  As important as it is to have an effective plan, that's just 1 step on the road to achievement.  Very few things worthwhile (including achieving excellence in local government) are accomplished with a sprint.  Instead, they are like running a marathon.  They require endurance — sustained performance — to be completed successfully.  Sustaining performance requires the combination of 2 elements.  In this issue, we identify those elements and see how to combine them by monitoring your progress.  Monitoring your progress not only sustains performance, it can also serve to minimize problems.  Even the best of plans require adjustments as events unfold.  If those adjustments aren't made soon enough, your project can run into trouble before you know it.  That's another reason why monitoring is so important.  Then, how often should progress be monitored?  To answer that question, we hear what some high-performance individuals do.  Of course, it's one thing to hear what the experts have to say.  But, it won't benefit us until we act on what we have learned.  So, take their recipe into your own 'kitchen' and prepare something special — for you and for your organization.

Making the Most of Team Projects (Vol. 2, Issue 5)
This issue is part 4 in the series on how to get things done.  While most of the previous issue deals with monitoring your own progress, you are likely to be involved in projects with others.  Whether you are a team member or the project manager, there are steps you can take to contribute to the success of the project.  Creating a team for your project opens the door to opportunity.  That opportunity is synergy — the alchemy of 1 plus 1 equals more than 2.  The challenge is to spark that synergy, fan its flames, and keep it burning throughout the project.  To meet that challenge, we see how to choose the team, how to award assignments, how to sustain action in team members, how to communicate and confirm expectations, how to monitor team performance, how to develop self-motivation in team members, and how to communicate the judgement of results.  This issue concludes with the identification of a very important element which is at the root of every successful project.

Making the Most of Outside Expertise (part 1) (Vol. 2, Issue 6)
This issue is part 5 in the series on how to get things done.  In the previous issue, we talked about tackling projects with teams of people inside your organization.  In this issue, we see how to make the most of expertise outside your organization.  The 1st question to answer is when you should seek outside assistance.  Next comes the question of how to choose the right person or firm for your project.  Over the years, this question has been endlessly debated.  But, there is 1 attribute which, surprisingly, is on very few qualification lists.  Yet, over a span of our 30 years' experience, this attribute has proven to be the key.  To underline its importance, 2 examples from past projects are offered.  Another example is used to illustrate the risk of allowing 3rd-party funders to choose whom you will retain.  Of course, the question of how to compensate whoever you retain needs to be answered.  This issue compares the merits of the 3 most often used and recommends a win-win formula.  Finally, when you have the answers to each of those previous questions, we see how best to confirm your expectations of the person or firm you retain.

Making the Most of Outside Expertise (part 2) (Vol. 2, Issue 7)
This issue is part 6 in the series on how to get things done.  In it, we discuss how your project should be managed, who should manage it, how to minimize problems up front, how to cover fees and expenses, how to handle additional services, who should prepare the project plan, how to monitor performance, and what to do if you find a problem.  In addition to providing specifics on each of these important elements, we discuss the principles and paradigms which are the foundation of successful projects.  For example, how you view the relationship between your organization and the consultant can mean the difference between success and failure.  That's because we see the world through the lens of our paradigms.  Having the wrong paradigm is like trying to manage if we have the wrong lenses in our glasses.  No matter how often we clean those lenses, the world will still be a blur.  If your organization will be relying on outside expertise at any time in the future, this issue and the previous issue should be on your must-read list.

Decisions, Decisions: Their Role in Achieving Excellence (Vol. 2, Issue 13)
What is the activity you performed most often yesterday?  How about last week — or the week before?  How about tomorrow — or next week?  No, you don't need to take out your Time & Expense Record or consult your weekly schedule.  The answer to each question is the same.  The activity you perform most often for every day of your life is — no, it's not breathing.  It's making decisions.  In every instant of every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every ... we are making decisions.  And, achieving excellence in local government, or in any other field, is all about making the right decisions.  Since decisions play such a critical role, it's worth spending some time seeing how we make decisions and how to improve those that we make.  This issue offers some thoughts on making decisions and some ideas for making better ones.

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