“That was one of the most powerful moments of this experience,” said Jason Residorfer, my boss and Innovation and Technology Director at the City of Sioux Falls, S.D. “I saw two guys who’ve worked at the City for 20-plus years, meet and shake hands for the first time ever,” Jason said, reflecting on what it was like to build a cross-functional team of City employees.
We call ourselves the Core Team; assembled by Jason and other City leaders at the launch of Sioux Falls’ participation in the Innovation Track of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative in November 2018. Our team of 14 has been working together to apply human-centered design principals to improve public transportation.
As we near the end of the program, Jason and I reflected on the attributes of our awesome Core Team members that have helped build a foundation for lasting innovation.
Allie Hartzler: How did you manage the recruitment process for your Core Team?
Jason Reisdorfer: I emailed our directors, giving them an overview of the Innovation Track program, ideal characteristics of a Core Team member, and asking them to nominate members of his or her team. After collecting potential candidates, I reviewed and made the final selection in partnership with the Mayor’s Office.
AH: What are the ideal characteristics of a Core Team member?
JR: We looked for high-energy, difference makers with the potential to influence. People who never say “we can’t do that” or “we’ve never done it that way.” We very intentionally created a mix of experience levels, genders, and ages. Another important consideration is capacity.
AH: Anything you would consider doing differently next time?
JR: It is vital to have representation from every department, including enterprise services like Human Resources and Legal, to build internal support. Although having Core Team members from every department results in a larger team, it’s a built-in safety net to help balance out the workload. I’d also consider making the selection process competitive to reduce any friction internally.
AH: What did your process of working with the Core Team look like?
JR: The most impactful thing we did was create a shared workspace, the Transit War Room, where our team could collaborate. We had recurring touchpoints throughout the Innovation Track program with our Bloomberg Harvard coach, Brianna Syler. Additionally, our team met every Friday for two hours. We found this to be a really great time and space for our team members to set aside their daily work, and work on something totally different. Finally, having a point person (and backup) to facilitate and coordinate meetings helped keep our project moving forward.