Citizens’ ideas needed for improving town processes

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Hey Granby! If there is a silver lining to 2020, maybe it’s the opportunity to question and reevaluate what works, what matters, and how prepared/ready we are as individuals and as a community to confront our challenges. Most if not all of us have been affected in personal and even difficult ways. I wanted to thank all of you again for your trust and support, and take just a moment to revisit the central themes of bringing fiscal and strategic accountability to Granby.

Reduce the cost of town services, without affecting quality.

A key driver of improvement is a mindset/culture that encourages it. Right now, we manage to dollars budgeted/spent rather than work performed. Our budget/goal-setting process is backwards—we ask department heads to prepare the details, then have “workshops” at the end to trim around the edges at best.

At the end of August, I submitted a proposal to our Town Manager to conduct an analysis of town departments, to look for opportunities to improve. The results of this analysis would give us better management information, and could also serve as input to our budget process that begins again in November.

If we do this work, we’ll have options we might not previously have thought were possible. If you have a background in management consulting, operations/process improvement, change management, or otherwise have thoughts about this approach, I’d love to hear from you.

Reduce the time it takes to identify and resolve town issues.

Whether it is a problem reported by a resident, or an opportunity like “what do we do when we get an offer to buy town land,” we continue to struggle to be responsive. In mid-August, with input from interested residents, I devised an Excel-based tool to track and monitor issues/opportunities to resolution. I see it as a way for the Board of Selectmen to publicly collaborate, and for all of you to help keep us on track and accountable for outcomes.

I will also be introducing a proposed process for dealing with opportunities that come before the town, designed to get residents and our volunteer boards/commissions all working together from the beginning. We truly are stronger together and it’s in our best interests to constantly seek to remove barriers to communication and collaboration.

If you have a background in help desk/customer service/service operations management, or otherwise have thoughts about this approach, I’d love to hear from you.

Facilitate clear goals and a realistic strategy for our future.

The Plan of Conservation and Development, adopted back in 2016, is the closest thing we have to a strategy in the business sense. Although some residents were involved in its creation, we haven’t shopped it around much; efforts to implement the plan only began late last year and aren’t really getting the attention they deserve. The Board of Selectmen in particular tabled action on our list of to-dos back in March. 

Furthermore, BOS goals aren’t really goals in the sense of being actionable, measurable, time bound, etc. So, it’s harder than it should be to answer the question, “are we getting where we want to go?” While this is admittedly difficult work to do, we can look at other towns, and even the organizations we are all part of, for inspiration. Simsbury, for example, has a process where the BOS works through its own set of goals annually, then translates them into near-term objectives/targets for the Town Manager. Once again, making this a public and shared process would only benefit Granby as we all try to find the best way forward.

If you think the operations analysis and issue-tracking-tool I’ve described here are important, please consider letting the Town Manager, John Ward, know – or visit the “Contact Us” page on our town website and provide your thoughts. I can be reached at and my desire is to help all of you play a more direct, meaningful role in determining our future, regardless of individual politics or passions. The Town is Us!