Early in November, a team of 43 employees representing all levels within the District gathered for three days at the Forest Service Training Academy in Albuquerque, N.M. The goal? Define and strategize the District’s priorities for the next one to five years, with a focus on four outcomes: 1) improve collaboration with partners 2) improve quality in product delivery 3) close the knowledge and experience gap, and (4) build the teams for tomorrow, today.
A key focus of District Commander Lt. Col. Antoinette Gant at the planning session was making sure that employees at all levels could see themselves as an integral part of developing the priorities and initiatives for the District that would remain relevant through 2013 and beyond.
Gant asked participants to keep three questions in mind as they strategized in teams. What is the District known for? What can be improved? What does the District need to do more of?
The teams brainstormed multiple ideas and developed several detailed logic models about how to engage customers better and how to continue developing and diversifying the workload and workforce.
“We had a very productive Strategic Planning Conference this week” Gant said. “We’ve identified goals for the District and did a great job linking them to the national USACE Campaign Plan, the South Pacific Division’s Implementation Plan and focus areas, and with USACE Commanding General Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick’s priorities.”
The next step is to begin implementation of these initiatives, starting with how the District strategically engages with customers and how to shape the workforce. One new change is making sure that all employees have an individual development plan with career goals projected out three to five years.
“First quarter milestones have been identified and are being tracked, and our District priorities include strategic communication and outreach, governance processes, workforce shaping, leader development and environmental sustainability,” Gant said.
In addition to strategizing District goals, there was a session that focused on generational differences. Participants said it was excellent and helped them understand each other better. It also helped improve teamwork, according to Strategic Planner Cheryl Buckel.
While the meeting dealt with important topics, there were some light-hearted moments as well. Gant surprised everyone the second morning with her introduction of a new dance – the “SPA Slide.” Buckel said “this was a great way to start the day,” and added that employees may one day see “a flash mob doing this dance” somewhere in the District.