6 Things Philadelphia Learned and Shared with King County, Washington
By Nandi O’Connor, Policy and Digital Content Manager, Office of Mayor James F. Kenney
A few weeks ago, a team of performance management and policy experts from King County, Washington visited the City of Philadelphia’s GovLabPHL team to share ideas and get a better sense of how we govern. This opportunity was made possible by the support of Results for America, where both Philadelphia and King County participated in the Local Government Fellowship. The King County team spent their first day in Philadelphia presenting to staffers on the equity and social justice plan that influences their policy work and their unique performance management structure. On the second day, GovLabPHL’s departmental partners had the opportunity to talk to the King County team about how the City of Philadelphia uses evidence and data to address our public policy challenges.
As an initiative that works across agencies to bring stakeholders together to talk through challenges, GovLabPHL understands the importance of sharing between peer groups — even ones on the other side of the country! Check out six things we shared with, and learned about King County during their visit.
- King County uses a unique system to address equity. With a population of 2.2 million and growing, King County contains some of the country’s most diverse zip codes. The County uses a visual rendering of a stream to evaluate equitable practices, and those that create inequitable outcomes such as unemployment, incarceration, and homelessness. The stream allows them to see how policies, practices, and systems contribute, or “flow downstream,” to outcomes. In King County, root causes of inequity are often addressed “upstream” through effective policymaking.
- Fail forward. King County doesn’t let fear of potential failure stop them from trying something new. Like many cities, they may not have all of the answers to their challenges; however, they understand how much influence they have over their residents’ lives. Keeping the status quo isn’t an option if they want to see systemic change. With failure there is knowledge, and an opportunity to try again.
- Visual management. Making sure everyone understands metrics and performance measures in any environment can be a difficult task. King County remedies this by keeping that information where everyone can see it — on the walls! As part of their performance management strategy, data is visually accessible so that at any point in time, everyone has a shared understanding of how initiatives are performing and where efforts need to be focused.
- Inclusive learning opportunities. Creating spaces for communities of thinkers to come together and learn new tools is the cornerstone of GovLabPHL’s model. Whether it’s by having an expert share knowledge through a lecture, or facilitating Author Talks where City employees are invited to read a book and participate in Q&A, sharing knowledge across peer groups helps to shift the culture of municipal government to improve outputs.
- Project mapping. The GovLabPHL process from engaging departments to completing an evaluation or experiment is lined with several strategic steps to ensure a positive experience for all involved stakeholders. GovLabPHL believes that the key to ensuring respect and transparency throughout a research experience is having a clear process in place so that stakeholders feel empowered and understand how we work.
- Celebrating champions. The work of GovLabPHL would not be possible without the departmental and academic stakeholders who champion the use of data and evidence and are integral to helping move our work forward. We do this by celebrating our “GovLabPHL champions” on social media! Not only does it give them the opportunity to be in the spotlight, it also sends a message to our audience that no amount of effort or work done on behalf of our initiative goes unnoticed.