Innovation Ambassadors v.3.0

What's our story regarding Innovation this year?  Here are just a few new things that have happened to us since last year:

  1. Our new Assistant Manager will have as a responsibility to keep the organization associated with innovation resources and create initiatives (with the Alliance for InnovationELGL, ICMA….) in a strategic way. 
  2. We have a new position in the Managers’ Office:  Management Analyst.  This position reports directly to the Manager.  Her job will have many facets in supporting the Managers’ Office, but will also be the project manager of Athens-Clarke County What Works Cities (WWC) program.   We have a strong relationship with that program and the support programs that the Bloomberg Philanthropies offers local government leaders. Being a WWC we have access to other resources such as the Behavioral Insights Team, The Government Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, Johns Hopkins GOVEX, Results for America and Sunlight Foundation. We are currently seeking What Works Certification, a National standard of excellence for well-managed, data-driven local government.
  3. Last year we offered our version of Denver’s and Chattanooga’s Peak Academy, which we named Athens Peak Academysponsored by the Organizational Development Division.  This has brought lean process improvement training to the ACC employees across our government.  We intend to continue to offer this week-long program in the future.
  4. Three years ago, our first group of employees attended the Alliance for Innovation Annual Conference.  We attended many innovative courses with case studies.  We were mesmerized.  We also sat in on the City of Decatur, GA presentation on their Innovation Team.  A core ACC team came back from the conference determined to build an innovation program for our 1600+ employees.  The program we developed is called the Innovation Ambassadors.  This is a select group of approximately 30 high potential employees that have been identified by the Manager’s Office, Department Directors and nominated by Ambassador Alumni.  The selections represent a diverse group of mid-level positions from across the organization.
  5. The program meets 12 times per year, for a two-hour session every month.  They meet with the city Manager and two Assistant Managers to discuss issues that the Managers’ Office is facing that particular month.  They discuss our failures and our successes with the Ambassadors.  The Managers are very keen to hear their perspectives, observations, and solutions. 

The Innovation Ambassadors program is semi-structured in that the sessions include:

  1. Team Building sessions
  2. A SWOT Analysis presentation from their perspective in the organization, which is contrasted with the perspective of the leadership team.  We have noted some very significant differences in perceptions.
  3. A 10-year financial trend of our government
  4. An 8-hour Emergenetics Workshop, where Ambassadors learn flexible communication techniques for “meeting people where they are at.”
  5. “Shark Tank Day,” so named because the session is competitive and not all ideas are adopted by a hive.
  6. The Ambassadors spend the next 5-6 months working in hives to do a gap analysis and research what other progressive, innovative governments are doing to address similar issues.  If it is a community issue, Ambassadors may meet with people and/or organizations in the community to find solutions.
  7. We host a Graduation Ceremony at the end of the program where hives make their formal presentation of their innovative solution to the problem they studied and researched.  The Department Director who brought the problem forward is at the graduation to hear possible solutions and ask questions of the hive.  The Managers’ Office is present to hear all presentations and ask questions too.  Of course, the other Ambassadors may have questions for the presenters as well.  We end the Graduation Ceremony with the presentation of a ACC Innovation Ambassador Shirt and program completion certificate.  We have the Ambassadors invite their managers and family members.  The mayor also attends.  It’s a great way to end the program with food and a fancy graduation cake, celebrating the hard work everyone has done, and an opportunity for networking.  

One of the hopes for this program was that it would serve as an informal Succession Plan/Talent Pipeline for our government, and it has done just that. Four of our recently appointed Department Directors are Ambassador Alumni.  It proves the point that these very talented, bright, adventurous employees—given the chance—can change the organization. 

It is a very auspicious time where each group of 30+ Ambassadors (employees) get to meet with the Managers’ Office every month.  It is a rare opportunity for the average government employee!  Many of the solutions have been adopted by the Departments and sometimes involve the Mayor and Commission. 

Team Building Kick Off Day

Good Afternoon Ambassadors,

I hope this email finds you all doing well. I am inviting you to a great afternoon of getting to know each other on Thursday, August 29, 2019 from 2:00 ‐4:00 pm for the Alliance Innovation 3.0 group Kick‐Off party!

I am very excited that each of you has accepted the invitation to be part of the Ambassadors group this fiscal year. We have a great year planned for you!

Enclosed you will find the invitation letter from Manager Williams to the program. Please mark your calendar and SAVE ALL OF THE DATES. These sessions with the Manager’s Office will prove to be invaluable.
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Team Building Kick Off Day:

When: August 29, 2019
Time: 2‐4 pm
Where: Trail Creek Park, 200 Trail Creek Street, Athens, GA 30601‐ (706) 613‐3991
What: Kickball, Pizza, Ice‐Cream and Networking
What to wear: Comfortable clothes to have an “old school” game of kick ball.
What to bring: A great, excited attitude, fun clothes, and an article you found interesting from the (Alliance for Innovation) https://www.transformgov.org/ or Engaging Local Government Leaders https://elgl.org/ ‐ and be prepared to talk briefly about why you found it interesting and if it is something that can be done at Athens‐Clarke County?

Be ready for a great event. The Managers Office will be there and will be in official gear to officiate the “old school” kick
ball game and also hear your innovative ideas for ACC.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please make every effort to be there. You will not regret it.

Kind Regards,
Catherine Bennett
Organizational Development Administrator

Let's Play Kickball

Lil' Ice Cream Dude, Beau Shell

Lunch and Listen

SWOT Analysis Workshop
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2019 SWOT Analysis Presentation

Download a copy of the SWOT Analysis presentation and Results.
Emergenetics Workshop Day - Coming January 2020
What is emergenetics
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