I was very intrigued by the City of Charlotte's initiative for change. It reminded me of my own personal experience working in a department for a city. A few years ago my grandfather was elected Mayor in the small town where I am from. When he began his term the city was in complete financial distress. Many new employees were being hired with the new term, including me. I was a clerk in the Treasurer's department and saw first hand the difficulties of running a city. My hometown doesn't compare to the size and capital of Charlotte, but had many of the same issues. In the beginning, all council meetings and discussions were about the financial state of the city. There were departments and jobs that needed consolidated. There was a new parking garage, a couple firetrucks, and a few police vehicles purchased without anyway of paying the debt. It was a difficult job for the brand new city manager to enter into a position where her first task would be to eliminate positions and start consolidating departments and programs. I was one of the last people to be hired, so I was one of the first to be let go. Every department lost a few people. The fire department displayed the biggest backlash. They even threatened not to respond to emergencies unless their people were hired back. After that, city property was sold off and taxes were raised. There was a lot of turmoil and confusion that something like a Balanced Scorecard would have helped with. They sort of went about the revitalization blindly. Their mission and vision was not a factor. The only concern for my grandfather at the time was getting out of debt.
I am impressed with Charlotte's strategy approach. They really focused on the city's objectives and devoting and developing new ways to excel. Not all of the departments were in agreement with what activities appeared on the corporate scorecard, but the focus was kept on the services that needed most improvement. The Balance Scorecard has been a vital tool in communicating the strategic vision of the city. It is always a difficult process to implement change, but the City of Charlotte was able to achieve that.