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Engaging Citizens in Performance Management and Strategic Planning

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Tim Dodd
September 1, 2017

performance managementA mission statement characterizes the purpose of existence of an organization, while a vision statement speaks more to the reasons behind the purpose.

Warby Parker’s “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious business,” Honest Tea’s “…to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages,” and Nordstrom’s “to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible” are examples of succinct and straight-forward mission statements from the business world.

After mission and vision statements are established, a municipality can then develop a performance management program based on these statements. Succinct and clear mission and vision statements will ensure a municipal government can then develop outcomes, goals, activities and metrics that all align with the direction given by these critical statements.

Developing mission and vision statements should not be done in a vacuum, and should be as inclusive a process as possible. The question then becomes how to involve the citizenry in the process of strategic planning and performance management. Many cities have developed citizen surveys and use results from these surveys to gain input in developing meaningful mission and vision statements. Others have found success in developing focus groups or inviting citizen input via electronic systems.

Some cities have also pioneered ways to continue to engage their citizenry in performance management activities after the development of an initial strategic plan. Somerville, Massachusetts developed Resistat to engage residents in data-driven decisions, the hallmark of the city’s SomerStat performance management program. Through community meetings each year, residents meet the mayor and other key officials and learn about data driving the decision-making process such as budget projections, economic development figures and crime statistics.

For a municipality’s strategic planning process to be meaningful, it needs engagement from residents, the community’s stakeholders. Gaining meaningful input in this process can be challenging, but developing mission and vision statements which engage the citizenry will help to develop a credible foundation for the rest of a municipality’s strategic planning efforts.


Author: Tim Dodd is the Chief Performance Officer for the City of Santa Monica, CA, previously serving as the Performance Manager for the City of Baltimore and Director of Performance Management for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. [email protected]

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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