By: Marty Lawing

The Guilford County Department Directors participated in a day long retreat on December 20th at the Union Square Campus on Gate City Boulevard.  The theme of this year’s retreat was innovation and was instructed and facilitated by staff members from the Alliance for Innovation.  The Alliance for Innovation is an international network of progressive local governments committed to transforming local government by inspiring innovation to advance communities and build cultures of innovation.

The morning session was led by Katy Simon Holland, a retired county manager from Arizona that now leads the Alliance.  She provided insight and facilitated discussions about the innovation process and the critical role of leadership in helping an organization develop and sustain capacity for innovation.  The group learned about the process, principles, infrastructure and core competencies necessary to build innovation capacity.  Following the work session county manager Marty Lawing said “All department managers want to provide more efficient and effective services to their customers. This presentation provided insight into how building a culture of innovation can produce better results that are valued by customers.”

The afternoon session was facilitated by Kim Bradford of the Alliance.  Directors worked in small groups to discuss incorporating innovation into the county’s vision, mission and core values.  Each group discussed the seven Focus Areas of Organizational Excellence: Healthy People, Public Safety, Economic Development, Education, Recreation and Culture and Infrastructure and potential initiatives for 2018 for each focus area.  At the end of the session, each participant had the opportunity to prioritize the initiatives under each focus area.  This information will be compiled and presented at the Board of Commissioners Annual Retreat in February.