Monday, March 19, 2012

Execution, then a Post-Mortem

With tomorrow's new election worker training, our staff underwent an exercise today that we do after nearly ever election.

We conducted a post-mortem review, in this case an analysis of the last two elections to identify learnings before heading into our next one.

Typically, we schedule these reviews for a couple of hours over lunch, bring in pizza, and discuss the elections as a complete group.  We go through all voter comments and the feedback sheets sent back from our election workers at each polling place.

Usually, we break the election down from left to right, from election preparation through advance voting, concluding with voter history and the canvass.  Today, we dove directly into specific things we want to address beginning tomorrow.

 Our focus today related primarily to learnings around Photo ID, which included recognition that those up front need additional training on the ins and outs of ID.  We've focused so much on our election workers, that they may be more up to speed on some of the changes than our front-line staff.

A few of them will sit in on training tomorrow, although I think the training will more than likely just give them validation and confidence in knowing that they really are more up to speed than they may have thought.

We also spend time evaluating interdependencies.  During the cycle, each of us at some point becomes a temporary choke point before another group in our office can move the ball with their responsibilities.

For instance, jurisdictional changes beget precinct definition and new mapping, which begets the movement of voters into new jurisdictions, which beget determination of candidates, leading to creation of the ballot, followed by ordering the printing of the ballot, followed by ballot delivery and voting machine programming, coming before voting machine delivery--accompanied with supply delivery, except for some supplies picked up by the supervising judges, who learn about that when they come to training.

And that's just high-level overlay number of one of a dozen.

(Er, maybe one of 10--I felt like the narrator of "The Ten Commandments" there.  It's that time of year).

Just as "Frampton Comes Alive"
was a standard-issued album in
"Wayne's World," this book
was on the bookshelf of
nearly every Sprint executive
in the early 2000s.
Election professionals don't
need to read this book--many I
know throughout the country
could have written it.
Beyond these debriefings, we meet as a group every Monday morning.  When in the throes of an election, as we will be next Monday, the tone is a posting meeting, focused specifically on interdependencies, deadlines, and issues.  After a canvass Monday, our next staff meetings are broader and more strategic.

In fact, our county is undertaking an infusion of training, sending department and agency heads to training, with the objective of cascading a culture among all employees where decisions are made collectively and at all levels in the organization.

I went to this training in November, and all the while saw proof points that our staff was already operating in this high-performance mode.  Having about a third of your resources cut over six years kind of brings that out, but I think that's an election thing, too.

Election people are operations-oriented and are great at execution.  That's a good thing, because I think execution capabilities are the most coveted competencies in organizations.  

When I worked at Sprint, a couple of our senior leaders were fond of saying, "We have all the tools in place; it just comes down to execution."

Well, of course it does.  Strategy--while important--is the easy part.  Everything in life comes down to getting things done.

Today was just a great reminder that I share the office with 15 persons who are great at getting things done.