The Rapidian

DGRI to bring champion of data-driven goals to speaker series

Theresa Reno-Weber will be sharing how her team in Louisville uses data and performance-based government strategies to improve services, build transparency and increase involvement at the city government level.
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GR Forward Thinking: Speaker Series with Theresa Reno-Weber

6:00 p.m.

Kendall College of Art and Design's Old Federal Building

17 Pearl Street NW

This Thursday, the GR Forward Thinking: Speaker Series brings Theresa Reno-Weber, Chief of Performance & Technology for the City of Louisville, Kentucky for a presentation at 6:00 p.m. at Kendall College of Art and Design's Old Federal Building (17 Pearl Street NW). Reno-Weber will share how she used data to not only improve government processes and changes, but to help keep local citizens better informed of City actions.

Reno-Weber's work with Mayor Greg Fisher is the result of the new position that he created when coming into the position as mayor of Louisville after a private sector background.

"His companies in the private sector had done a lot with lean process improvement, using data and root cause analysis to really drive excellent results within his business," she explains. "He felt very strongly that we needed to take that same kind of discipline and bring that into city government."

Fisher's plans for change, however, required a willingness from citizens and government workers to make those changes.

"Without a mechanism within city government for him to cascade information down to the paramedic on the street, it's very hard for citizens to receive something different. Your daily interactions with City government and the services that you get are not going to change unless there is work done to really do the effort to make those changes in a disciplined way," she says. "So we came in to put those structures in place."

Reno-Weber's consultant background helped her come in expecting some resistance to change, and identify the "first followers" with a lean start-up approach. She wanted to create deliberate successes that would help others want to get involved as well.

Her team approached their work with the "2-6-2 rule." Generally, she says, people in society react to change in three categories 20% are early adapters, willing and excited to try new things; 60% are on the fence, preferring to wait to see how things go and 20% never want to change. Following the 2-6-2 rule, they began seeking out those who were hungry for change in their government and wanted to be a part of making changes happen.

"It's much easier to get those people excited and motivated to help you than it is to try to get people who are on the fence," she says. "If we get 80%, that's fantastic. We don't actually need to spend all of our time on that 20% because we could spend all of our time and still never change their minds. So let's spend our energy on cultivating those early adaptors and get them to be the ones who are our advocates that spread the word to the other 60%," she says. "We started to get in our second year, to my surprise, people who would call my office and say, 'Hey when do we get to start using LouieStat,' which is our data tracking and statistics program."

It's no small feat: Reno-Weber and her team managed, in one year, to get government employees excited about data collection. Explaining the importance of this process- and how she made it happen- will be a part of her presentation on Thursday night.

"How do you use data to drive community conversations and set community goals and activate other community stakeholders to help the City accomplish the goals that they say are important to them?" she says. "We've been really deliberate about trying to track data and then communicate that data to the citizen and to other stakeholders and saying 'Are we all on board that this is our goal, and that this is where we need to get to in order to be a healthy city- to be a competitive city- and if so, how do we get there together? What does the City do, what does the school system do, what do the businesses do?' My department has been the catalyst for those kind of coversations."

Reno-Weber says her team works to focus on three components to ensure success: strategic planning, performance management and statistics and capability building.

"[We] give training to metro employees in things like lean process improvement and data analysis at a very high level, to give them the tools they need to be able to be better managers and to help them to use data to help them inform their decisions," she says. "So we provide a lot of that hands-on training and certification for employees and deploy them against problem areas."

With a population of 750,000 in the City proper in Louisville and 1.3 million in the metro area, Reno-Weber sees many applications from her own work that can be applied to Grand Rapids' current work on planning for downtown and riverfront development.

"With GR Forward, [I'll talk about] how you take that data and information and share it with the community in a way that helps bring people together and align on the goals that the community wants to drive towards and how they're going to get there and who's going to help make that possible," she says.

Directly after Reno-Weber's talk, there will be a chance for the community to look at the first draft of the GR Forward Vision Statement.

"Following the lecture, we’ll dovetail into our first GR Forward city-wide public forum," says Kris Larson, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) President and CEO. "At the forum, our consulting team will provide an overview of the months of analysis and reams of public input, then publicly share how the first draft of the GR Forward Vision Statement was built... then the forum will break into topical conversations about each of the vision statement’s six corollary goals."

Attendance at the Thursday evening event is free and open to the public. Find more information, directions and RSVP on the Facebook event.

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