Let's be honest. Sometimes the biggest hurdle to achieving a more sustainable way of doing business is public opinion. And while nearly everyone is in enamored with the idea of being a "greener" community, the enthusiasm often fades in the shadow of the price tag.
But as I've mentioned in columns past, whether you know it or not, it's likely that your organization is already at least somewhat sustainable in its operations.
• Remember when you converted those old paper records to electronic. That's being sustainable.
• Those pavement inspections you do each spring. That's being sustainable.
• That 1998 Ford F-150 that you've loyally maintained since it was new. That's being sustainable.
• Using collected yard waste to produce mulch. You guessed it - sustainable.
And while these types of things constitute business as usual for you and your workforce, these are the types of efforts that your citizens want and need to know about.
Suffice it to say, a little communication goes a long way. Some call that bragging. But those people are wrong. It's just telling it like it is.
Think about it. By simply telling citizens what your crews accomplished last month, you just might end-up validating your staffing needs and budget allocations. And just as importantly, you'll create confidence in government leaders and foster an elevated sense of community pride.
The challenge, however, is quantifying and communicating these efforts to your citizens.
Not long ago, Shane Gardner, Cartegraph Business Analyst, offered some sage advice to municipal professionals everywhere. In his column "Best Practices: Performance Measures for Public Works," Gardner shared his experience helping government organizations measure performance and communicate those results.
According to Gardner, there are three things to remember when measuring success and communicating that success to the public.
• Why does your department exist? What may seem obvious may just as easily be forgotten in the shuffle of everyday business. Never hesitate to remind yourself what you do and why you do it.
• Get in-sync. No, not the nineties boy band. Your message. Again, it may seem obvious, but your performance measures should always tie directly to the reason your department exists. In short, if you're in Parks and Rec, talk about picnic tables painted, not potholes filled.
• Be creative. In an ideal world, your reports quantify everything and disclose a healthy return on investment. Then, everyone takes turns rolling around in the money saved and knocks-off for the day. Yeah right. If success can't be tied to numbers, tie it to something that your citizens will appreciate - safety and sustainability, anyone?
For more tips on measuring performance and calculating return on investment, visit the Cartegraph blog.