Message from Executive Constantine on being the difference

Posted on October 25, 2010 by


Today, I gathered 300 senior leaders from within county government to talk about how to transform our organization to be sustainable over time. One of the key messages I delivered was the importance of empowering those who do the work to be the difference they want to see.

Many of you, like me, chose to work for government because you wanted to make a difference. Many of us feel proud to dedicate ourselves every day to improving the communities in which we live. We feel proud to serve the underserved, to keep the public trust through transparent communication or fair procurement practices, to restore equity through health, justice, or a decent place to live; to protect our natural resources so they may pass unspoiled to the next generation.

Or more simply put by Henry David Thoreau: “Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.”

In recent years, we have had to make painful cuts. We have cut programs, we have cut positions, and we have cut until there is nothing left but the most basic services. None of this occurred because we didn’t work hard enough or care enough. It happened despite that.

Cutting costs and services will take us only so far. For long-term success and sustainability for the County, we must also  change ourselves and the way we work. Our guiding mission is the Countywide Strategic Plan. The tools we will use are change management and continuous improvement. You will learn more about these tools in the coming weeks and months.

The bottom line is that we have set the goal of continuously improving our work by streamlining the processes we use. Doing this will enable us to create 3 percent in efficiencies every year. And those of you who do the work are best equipped to identify the changes that need to happen to create these efficiencies.

This work is already being done by frontrunners of change in our organization. You can read their thoughts and their stories on a Be the Difference blog that was created by employees to follow King County’s transformational journey.

One of the most important objectives in the Countywide Strategic Plan is developing and empowering King County government’s most valuable asset, our employees. In the coming weeks and months, you will be hearing a lot more from me and others in our organization about how you can be a part of this ongoing process of transformation.

This is a major shift for all of us and we will no doubt struggle at times to do it right and do it better. But I hope that you will be inspired by this new way of doing business in King County and will feel supported in making the kinds of changes that will make your work more productive and meaningful. Ultimately, we will make King County better – both for its employees and for the people we serve. I thank you in advance for joining me in this effort.

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