May – Good Bad and Ugly

I just returned from the Atlanta APA conference where I gave a presentation on a few key issues I have found in conducting studies for some 170 planning and community development departments.

1. Who hires a firm to look at your department?       

  • 20% of our clients have good departments and want to become even better. Some do a study or review every five years. This is the way it should be done.
  • 80% of our studies are generated by city managers or elected officials who feel changes are essential.

2. When to do a study?

  • We have half a dozen directors who hire us for a review within the first year after taking a new job. This allows us to take some of the heat for problems in the department and gives the new director some ideas and assistance for change.
  • A few new directors call us in the first year suggesting they may need some help from the outside. They call again the second year and then again the third year but nothing ever takes place. By the fourth year, or maybe sooner, they are fired. I like to think we could have helped to save their job if we came in to assist during that first year.

3. Planning Department or ???????

  • I stared doing these studies or reviews in 1982 for Planning Departments.
  • Today, virtually no one wants a review for just the Planning Department. Communities recognize how integrated planning and development are so they request a more expanded review. Normally this included Planning, Building, and Engineering. Sometimes it also includes various Utilities, Public Works, Health, or Economic Development. Often a quick look at the attorney, HR, and IT are also essential.

In my management info article next month, for June, I’ll summarize a variety of key issues that we see over and over again in our studies. In the meantime, remember you can send your problems to the Management Doctor for free advice.

Best wishes,

the Management Doctor