A Process Run Amok

Dear Management Doctor:

We have a large city where departments are physically separated by miles. We have separate planning and development departments. Platting, Zoning, BOA and various other staff (parks, transportation, etc) comments are submitted to the development department to be placed into one report and sent to the commissioner and board members. Public notice coverage and distribution is determined by the clerical, excuse me, development department staff. A couple of middle management staff have taken it upon themselves to edit, delete pertinent information and, best of all, add their own opinions on the matter. The development staff do not leave the front desk they do not visit the site. They draw conclusions from outdated or second-hand information. By the time planning staff, as well as other department staff, have received the combined report and realized that the information provided has been deleted, changed or given new meaning, it is too late and costly for us to correct the document and send another mailing. These individuals serve as secretary to the boards and commissions, sit with them on the panel and advise them as the meeting proceeds. Presentations are not made by staff and recommendations are not offered, only the facts.

I am sure you have heard this all before, but in one city? What did you advise them and how would you advise us?

Signed,
Amok and Confused

Dear Amok and Confused:

I thought I had heard it all but your story takes the cake. Thank you for the story. It adds a humorous side to the holiday season. I am happy to add it to my dumb ideas section of my website. It sounds like you need a total re-do of your entire system. I would advise the following:

  1. Get everyone involved in the process collocated to the same facility.
  2. Agree on who will be the key coordinator of all the processes.
  3. Assign a project manager to each project. This is normally a planner. The project manager is the editor of all the comments. If politics dictate that all comments be forwarded to the policy makers, use them as attachments to the project manager's report.
  4. The project manager should visit the site prior to writing the report.
  5. The project manager's report should include a well-reasoned recommendation.
  6. The project manager should make the presentation to the boards and commissions and advise them as the meeting proceeds.
  7. In your comments, I don't know who the "us" and " them" are. If they "them" don't change then you "us" should consider working for a different city!

Call me if you want to discuss this.

The Management Doctor