Innovation Ambassadors v.1.0 (Pilot Group)

Initially, 33 employee ambassadors and 5 department directors in varying professional fields were selected in September 2016 to launch the ACCGOV Innovation Ambassadors annual program.  Coordination of projects for the ambassadors is overseen by Organizational Development and the Manager's Office.

Our pilot group met for the first time in November for a half-day of team building activities, including an icebreaker "meet and greet" activity and a friendly game of oxygenate the brains and bodies for an optimal post-game group discussion.

This discussion included a program overview, perspectives about innovation, and an introductory discussion about the What Works Cities program, which was the first successful, large-scale project.


How "What Works Cities" was Introduced to ACCGOV

"During our first Innovation Ambassadors meeting, using data to drive performance management and strategic decision-making was mentioned several times.  What Works Cities is a Bloomberg Philanthropy that is a national initiative that assists local governments in enhancing their use of data to improve services and inform decision-making.  We are currently (in 2016) working on completing an application to receive assistance from What Works Cities in regards to collection, management, and use of data for performance measurement and management.  The application asks questions inquiring as to how our organization currently collects and uses data to drive our decision-making, as well as what technology is being used to manage and maintain data."  Sarah George

Team Building and Leadership Development

This pilot group engaged in a team-building Emergenetics® workshop that emphasized strengths-based communication strategies to promote high-level interpersonal traction.  

Other team-building events included learning about the budget, project management, how to conduct a SWOT analysis, and performance management processes.  From the beginning, the group was encouraged to be an actively working group that would not only research and discuss projects, but also achieve real results. 
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Download SWOT Analysis presentation and SWOT Results notes.

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ACC Core Values Project

Initially, the Managers Office asked the entire Innovation Ambassadors group to visit each of their respective departments to gather intel on what employees of ACC believe to be the core values of our organization. These results were then compiled as a first run submission for smaller work groups to work on.

A further step was taken when some of the ambassadors set up a Values Booth at the ACC Health and Wellness Fair and asked attending employees to complete a questionnaire designed to extract a greater collection of core value keywords.  Over 300 submissions were collected.

The top 10 most frequently used keywords captured from the Values Booth are shown in this chart. This data was used to craft three final submissions to the whole Innovation Ambassador group for a final vote (click the thumbnails to view).

A final document was not selected and our core values still remain undetermined (2019).

Core Value Statements_brian seagraves
ACCUG values_carrie slayton
Value Statements_denise plemmons
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 Hive Project Groups for 2017

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Trash Downtown Project

Trash sitting out on streets negatively impacts public perception and air quality, creating a health and safety issues.  What are appropriate and innovative containment solutions?
How do we incentivize glass reduction downtown to maintain higher safety standards for pedestrians, and civilian and ACCUG staffers?

Below are some pictures of this Hive giving their presentation, which included a video and a PowerPoint presentation.

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Glass Bottle Reduction Program

Mayor & Commission approved on July 3, 2018

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Program Ideas for Low-Income Assistance for Water and Sewer Payment Project

It seems to make sense that we look into partnering with organizations who offer these kinds of services who are already providing low-income assistance in some form or another. Habitat for Humanity or The Salvation Army may be potential resources to research regarding water and sewer billing assistance.

How can the Public Utilities Department help our low-income customers learn about assistance programs for other things?  It also seems possible to help people determine ways to save money in other places that will enable them to fully pay their water bill.  For example, the Georgia energy Assistance Programs is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their energy bills.  If our customers take advantage of this program, it could free up money to pay their water bill.

Check out their PowerPoint presentation and Executive summary.


Project SHARE Water & Sewer Bill Assistance

Mayor & Commission approved on January 2, 2018

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How Do We Implement "Envision Athens?" Project

Initially, ACCGOV partnered with community stakeholder groups in 10 focus areas to develop a comprehensive vision for the Athens-Clarke County area over the next 20 years.  As part of this process, multiple goal areas and priorities were identified that required collaboration from all stakeholder organizations.  The Envision Athens project maintains a variety of reports and related news articles on its website.

The question presented to the hive was:  How do we take this massive "goals" document and implement all of these goals?

The consultant, community stakeholders, and government leadership later determined that this huge project should not be ACCGOV’s sole responsibility, but the result of a collaborative effort among all stakeholder groups.

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Efficient Use of ACCUG Property Project

How do we assess ACCGOV property capital and optimize its use among the varied departments scattered across this county, including both building properties and land use?

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Employee Recognition Program Expansion Project

How do we recognize and reward people at the team or division level, instead of just recognizing employees at the individual level?  This project will explore how we could we set up a program with clear rules and expectations.

Project considerations: 

  • Should it be competitive among teams/divisions?
  • Should the winner be decided by a panel of peers?
  • Should the winner be determined using data-based results?  If we connected eligibility for recognition to outcome-based performance metrics, this would increase the relevancy of performance measurements. 
  • Casting it at the team or division level may incidentally foster teamwork. 
  • The recognition could be monetary, which might mean the Innovation Ambassadors would figure out how to split limited funds among recipients.  This could create conflicts of interest among coworkers of ambassadors.
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Homelessness and its Impact on Leisure Services Facilities

Homelessness is a community issue.  Leisure Services has their fair share of problems in the parks and along the Greenway because the facilities are often near service providers for the homeless.  Facilities that are more remote may have overgrown areas adjacent to the facility, which provides hidden places for the setting up of encampments.  Leisure Services works closely with the ACCGOV Police Department to clear the homeless population from our parks, but the issue persists as they typically circle back and have to be escorted back out again.

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Rebuilding the Employee Performance Management Process (PMP)

Outdated employee performance appraisal systems are no longer as effective as they once were, so how should we rebuild or replace a new appraisal system that fits the current needs of our organization?


  • Does it include ACCGOV's Core Values? 
  • Should it be converted to a digitized format?  Software as a service (SaaS) that connects to the Human Resources Information System (HRIS)?
  • Should it be captured weekly, quarterly, annually? 
  • Should it be tied to pay for performance?
  • What type of information should be exchanged at the performance appraisal meeting?
  • Should the performance appraisal discussion be about past performance or a future goal-orientation?
  • Should it be a collaborative dialogue?  Should it include a two-way feedback system for both supervisor and employees?
  • What is working well in other organizations?
  • What should we keep about the current appraisal process?
  • What should we change about the current appraisal process?  What is no longer effective about it?

After the Hive met with Jeff Hale, the Human Resources Director, it was determined that this project should be put on hold until the completion of the pay study results (anticipated in 2018), so that a compensation philosophy could be used to guide this project.