Strategic Performance Management: What Do You Do When You’ve Almost Achieved Your Vision?

It’s March 2016. The management team of King County’s Finance and Business Operations Division (FBOD) meets to do a “quick refresh” of the division’s clarity map. The purpose is to confirm commitment to the vision and mission, revise goals if necessary, and collect key initiatives and measures in support of those goals to provide strategic management direction for the next three to five years. After three years, the team needed to consider whether their strategic management system was still propelling the division forward.

Flash back to 2013 strategic management system development

In 2013, FBOD had just rebooted its approach to Lean. A tools-focused Lean implementation layered on top of a frustrating major software implementation had employees suffering from a curious combination of resistance to change and change fatigue. Customers were unhappy. Standard work was non-existent. And staff turnover rose to more than 20 percent per year.

FBOD’s leadership decided that it was time to move staff out of the pain of the present and create a more inspiring vision of the future and. They needed a light at the end of the tunnel.

With that in mind, the management team created a draft strategic performance management system including a vision, mission, values, goals and major initiatives to move towards those goals. All staff had a chance to provide feedback before the map was finalized. A true reflection of where FBOD was on its Lean journey, the vision reflected the need to focus on building a workplace that prioritized respect for its employees to begin building a healthy organization.

2013 Vision: FBOD is an innovative, rewarding, open and safe workplace that provides meaningful value for our employees, customers and community.

FBOD team The management team at King County’s Finance and Business Operations Division reflects on progress made in reaching their 2013 vision.

 “We created the clarity map at the front end of our Lean journey to make sure we were in alignment,” said FBOD Director Ken Guy. “We had to create this sense of community and sense of safety in the beginning.”

Return to 2016 and the strategic management system refresh

FBOD’s management team began their discussion in the spring of 2016 by reviewing major milestones reached since 2013 on the way to achieving the vision. Integris facilitators Evans Kerrigan and Gwen Voelpel then asked them to consider two key questions:

  1. Is this vision still 5-10 years away from being realized?
  2. Will this vision inspire you and your staff to stretch?

The answers:

  1. No
  2. No

Three years of strategic management pay off

In 2013, the vision was aspirational. Pain points were plentiful. Becoming an innovative, rewarding, open and safe workplace seemed like a stretch goal. But by the time FBOD sat down again to revisit the vision in 2016, so much had been done to engage employees, improve processes and cultivate Lean leadership that it no longer felt like a vision. The team agreed that although they had not completely arrived, they were far closer to achieving that vision than they had predicted. It was then that the conversation took a turn toward developing a new vision.

“Because we have matured it felt like it was the right time for a refresh of our vision,” said FBOD Director Ken Guy. “The original clarity map served its purpose but we realized we had evolved a lot since 2013.”

After throwing a few ideas around and ensuring alignment up to the top of the King County organization, the management team settled on a draft vision statement to vet with all staff:

2016 Vision: ”To be the best run financial services for the best run government.”

“It’s easy to remember and aligns FBOD with the overall County vision of becoming the best run government,” said Ken Guy. “The new clarity map with our new vision and updated goals, initiatives and measures will help us create even better alignment over the next 3-5 years. It was definitely the right time for a refresh.”

King County’s Finance and Business Operations Division updated its vision in March 2016 after implementing its strategic management system for three years. Download FBOD’s Clarity Map

About The Client

King CountyKing County in Washington is the 13th most populous county in the United States. King County as an organization has 13,000+ employees and an $10 billion biennial budget. Among other major priorities, King County Executive Dow Constantine has set a policy goal of being the best-run government in the United States by employing business practices like Lean management to deliver government services more efficiently. King County’s Finance and Business Operations Division has 180+ employees and a $56+ million biennial budget. The division provides accounting, procurement, treasury, payroll, benefits and small business services.


Gwen Voelpel

Gwen Voelpel has 20 years of experience in coaching and mentoring leaders at all levels of organizations. She has an undergraduate degree in communications, a graduate degree in public administration, and has served as an executive leader in several organizations. Gwen is an accredited Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team and Everything DiSC Workplace Facilitator and a Certified Master in Training for The Leadership Challenge.