Innovation Ambassadors v.2.0

This year, the focus of IA v.2.0 is based on motivating and growing our high potential employees. 

A Harvard Business Review article, entitled How Are You Protecting Your High Performers from Burnout?, states, “High performers hold great value for any company, delivering 400% more productivity than average performers” (Plummer, 2018). 

The article suggests creating high performing pairs, which the Innovation Ambassadors simulates with its Hive Groups.  “High performers routinely find themselves separated from those they most closely relate to and enjoy working with.  This happens for obvious reasons, but surrounding them with low performers increases their workload, saps their morale, and limits their development.  Pairing two high performers of a similar level can help distribute this added weight and improve high performers’ experience without leaving some teams with no high performers” (Plummer, 2018).

Lisa describes her experience:  “When I got to work with other high performers, it felt like a totally different experience. Not only did it make me feel more motivated, but it made me better because the other high performers were pushing my thinking” (Plummer, 2018).

This one way that we try to keep our high performers growing.  It’s not about putting them on the hardest projects, or rewarding their hard efforts with more work.  ACCGOV’s aim with the Innovation Ambassador program is to recruit high performers with interesting projects, engage them with work they find personally motivating, and retain them with recognition and greater career visibility. 

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Next Big Idea Club 

Created by the people who are all too familiar with thought-provoking, research-backed insights, the Next Big Idea Club 
aims to expose you to the next nonfiction book set to take the country and world by storm. Every three months, the curators hand-select two books in psychology, business, happiness, and productivity that they deem the most exciting and groundbreaking.

Interview with Catherine Bennett

Organizational Development Administrator
and Innovation Ambassador Program Facilitator

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Q:   How is IA v.2.0 different from the pilot group?
CB: 2.0 is different in a couple of ways:



Ambassadors were selected by Manager, Blaine Williams

Ambassadors were selected by Manager, Blaine Williams, Department Directors and and pilot group (v.1.0) recommendations

Team Building meeting was the first IA meeting

Team Building meeting held in last half of the year

SWOT Analysis presented to Manager's Office

SWOT Analysis presented to Manager’s Office and Department Directors

Four Hives completed their projects

Seven Hives are scheduled to complete their projects

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Five IA alumni Mentors

Q:   How has the program improved?
CB: Four Innovation Ambassadors left the 12-month program due to workload in v.1.0.  Two Innovation Ambassadors have left the program due to workload in v.2.0. 

This group is spending more time with the Manager’s Office, understanding the issues facing the government from the Manager’s Office perspective.  They are getting the opportunity to ask the Manager’s Office questions directly about these issues. 

We cut out some of the training topics like, Project Management and How to Work with the Budget, which added more time for the ambassadors to work on their Hive Projects.

We had each Hive self-select a leader.  They interfaced with the Department Director and/or staff member that requested a solution to a problem right from the beginning to get context surrounding the problem statement. 

Hive groups are more active in v.2.0.  There seems to be more connectivity among Hive members. 

Q: What are the goals for the program in the coming years?  How will the program evolve?

  • To keep track of the number of IA’s who are leaving the organization. 
  • To keep track of the number of IA”s who are being promoted.
  • To keep relevant leadership information in front of them.
  • To have IA’s spending more time with the Directors.
  • To have the IA’s telling their story to their associations at conferences.
  • More white papers featuring our program
  • On the first day of IA v.3.0, have past IA’s present to tell their stories, experiences, and benefits of the program.
  • A designated space that IA’s of any year can meet to “incubate” innovation with resources that they would need to be innovative.
What is emergenetics
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Improving Interpersonal Interactions with Emergenetics

In April 2018, Organizational Development conducted an Emergenetics© Meeting of the Minds workshop for the Innovation Ambassadors.  Emergenetics© is a personality profile system for understanding thinking and behaving preferences from a strengths-based perspective.  The workshop provided diverse perspectives on the how to approach colleagues and citizens, and demonstrated how to employ clearer, more powerful communication strategies.  Emergenetics© is an approach to leadership unlike any other, as it builds awareness and boosts interpersonal and communication skills.

This workshop was wildly successful!  Here are a some quotes from a few of the evaluations:

  • “The session was relevant and should be utilized by all supervisors within our organization.”
  • “It was fun, and I think helpful. It is good to get to know more about yourself, as it can inform necessary changes and development opportunities.”
  • “I got a very positive experience from this class.  I gained energy from the experience.”

2018 SWOT Analysis Presentation

Download a copy of the SWOT Analysis and Presentation Notes.

Innovation Ambassadors v.2.0 Spooktacular Team-Building Day

Wednesday, October 31, 2018, we hosted an Innovation Ambassador Spooktacular Team-Building event from 9:00AM-1:00PM at Trail Creek Park, in Athens, GA.

The day started with many of the Ambassadors arriving in Halloween costumes to carve pumpkins.  We witnessed a lot of creativity and spooky pumpkin-making! 

Following the pumpkin carving, the Ambassadors were encouraged to share and discuss innovative ideas from around the country.  After much lively exchange, lunch was served and we all enjoyed each other’s company. 

Goody Bags were passed out at the close of the event as a "thank you" for participating.

Special Thanks for making this event a success: Carrie Slayton, Sarah George, Melinda Lord, Melanie McElroy, Mason Towe, and Marilyn Hall.

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Hive Project Groups for 2018

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Pop- Up Meeting Project

With a new Mayor and batch of Commissioners, community outreach and engagement is undoubtedly going to be core principle of how that desire to operate.  As an organization, we are already committed to soliciting input from community members in various forms, but we will need to reach further.  I think it would be a good idea to figure out how to replicate a mobile “pop-up meeting” tool  from St. Paul, MN and Goodyear, AZ.  Data indicates that you receive more accurate and diverse feedback if government can meet the citizens where they are versus citizens coming to us in order to provide feedback. 

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Child Care for ACCGOV Employees

Childcare. It’s far more than a women’s issue – or even a family issue. It’s a business challenge. And, according to new data, providing childcare is also a potential boon for the bottom line. A growing body of research documents the relationship between the availability of quality childcare and benefits to business, including reduced absenteeism, employee turnover, and productivity loss, as well as improved reputation and recruitment of skilled employees. The lack of access to childcare is also a major barrier to women’s labor force participation across the globe, contributing to a gender gap of 18 percentage points – a gap which, if closed, could add $12 trillion to GDP by 2025.  

See Survey results.

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Tactical Urbanism

Tactical Urbanism is all about action. Also known as DIY Urbanism, Planning-by-Doing, Urban Acupuncture, or Urban Prototyping, this approach refers to a city, organizational, and/or citizen-led approach to neighborhood building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyze long-term change.

Examples include highly-visible and formalized efforts, such as New York’s Plaza Program, or smaller-scale “demonstration projects” (typically lasting 1 to 7 days). Tactical Urbanism projects can be led by governments, non-profits, grassroots groups, or frustrated residents. Though the degree of formality may vary, Tactical Urbanism projects share common goal of using low-cost materials to experiment with and gather input on potential street design changes.

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Tactical Urbanism
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PMP Powerpoint Presentation

PMP Replacement

The ACCGOV performance management program (PMP) is a very important process that is in need of an update.  Currently, employees are evaluated on three domains related to overall commitment to the organization and other domains aligned directly to their job description. With a paper-based system and an overall score ranging from 1 to 5, the instrument used for the PMP is limited for both the individual and the organization.  Redesigning this program could greatly impact employee performance and engagement.

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Creating a Youth Sports Model and Life Lessons Program Similar to Atlanta's "Soccer in the Streets"

This is an opportunity rather than a problem. We will have the opportunity to design and develop methods for improving the training coaches receive when working with ACCGOV Leisure Services programs. This will include creating a model for how playing these games (soccer, football, baseball, etc.) and the game skills translate into life-skill lessons. Hopefully, as this develops, it will move into the active part of the function and we will start partnering with UGA for implementation.

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Sustainability Hive Pres 121018

The Sustainability Office Grant Funding Allocation

Problem:  The Sustainability Office has an annual budget allocation specifically to “grant” funding to other departments to enhance the sustainability of their activities. In its first year, there was no structure, context, or process to these grants, so they were awarded by the Sustainability Officer on an “as-identified” basis.

Our Goal:   To come up with a program that is known, structured, simple, and fair. Help us give away our money!

Examples of 1
st year funding initiatives:

  1. $5,000 was granted to Solid Waste to help complete a feasibility assessment to deploy solar on the landfill. The project is viable and is now being considered by private sector entities.
  2. $4,500 was shared to Leisure Services to complete property acquisition due diligences to create a second water trail launch site on the Middle Oconee River. This remains active.
  3. $6,000 is being invested in a TPW project to enhance connectivity between the Firefly Trail and adjacent bike lanes on E. Broad Street. Construction is targeted to be substantially complete by June 30, 2019.
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Early/Advance Voting in Athens-Clarke County

ACCGOV currently has four Early/Advance voting locations and none of those locations service the Eastside of Athens.  

Proposed Goal/Solution:  Two additional location on the Eastside of Athens should be implemented by 2020.

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Early Vote
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​Innovation Ambassadors 2.0 Program Completion

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CONGRATULATIONS Innovation Ambassadors 2.0!

IA's in photo:  Gustavo Rodriguez-Zaccaro, Usha Fleming, Julia Johnson, Nena Gilreath, Michelle Spencer, Hayley Banerjee, Michelle Carrigg, Michelle Nguyen, Gavin Hassemer, Brandon Willingham , Melanie McElroy, Russ Parton, Jessica Goings, Amy Lloyd, Adnan Aydin, Ken Weiner, Harrison Daniel, David Griffeth, Victor Pope, Nate Moss, Sheridan Soileau, Jason McClellan, Virginia Berkhimer, Mason Towe.

IA's not pictured:  Damian Goree, JW Thaxton, Toddy Zarei, Toro Holt.

Triumph! We questioned, innovated, and improved organizational processes throughout 2018!  
We came together monthly for an entire year to think creatively and expand our perspectives into “what could be” for the Unified Government of Athens Clarke County and its citizens.  We shared visions of a future government at its best and how we might get there.  We expanded our network by coming to know all 28 IA's from across different departments and professions in this government.  

Here’s looking at you, Innovation Ambassadors 2.0! Outstanding work! Lead On!

Catherine Bennett