This case study examines how to recognize the desire for change and harness that energy to build and steward the development and implementation of a Service Excellence Strategy that yields concrete results and sustains the momentum required for long term success.
The City of Vaughan is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario. With the vision of becoming the ‘City of Choice’, Vaughan has committed to a Term of Council Service Excellence Strategy Map focused on delivering council commitments for the remaining term of council. This involves improving citizen experience through service delivery and managing growth; operating more effectively and efficiently, and improving staff engagement. This transformation journey will take time. It is complex, dynamic, and requires stewardship, leadership, and management, as well as balancing current fiscal responsibilities and commitments.
The City of Vaughan embarked on a six-month transition process called ‘Building Capacity and Focus’ to design and implement an innovative approach to developing a refocused strategic plan aimed at fostering a shared vision and culture of Service Excellence throughout all City services and operations. At the end of this process, the City of Vaughan achieved the following critical milestones: unanimous council approval of the Service Excellence Strategy; a shared mindset and commitment to Service Excellence; and an organizational design and alignment of the City’s three-year budget with the priorities and goals of the Strategic Plan, while keeping the tax rate in line with targets set by Council.
Given the short time frame in which these remarkable results were achieved, this case study illustrates the value in capitalizing on a desire for change at the right moment and ensuring the proper leadership team and strategies were in place to preserve the momentum and commitment required for change in the long term. It also stresses the criticality of measuring and evaluating change at each stage of the process.
The City of Vaughan case study provides reflections on the principles, practices, and possibilities of how to successfully leverage the talent, values, and passion of its people to create breakthrough strategies to lead, manage, and sustain momentum through culture shifts and longer-term transformational changes required for success. The Sustainable Leadership Development Framework was used to measure and evaluate the alignment, integration, actions and impacts of the change process. The lessons learned provide valuable insight for the practice of leadership, management and organizational development.