Social Impact Case Study: City of Hayward

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Before and After Lean Innovation: Overview

The City of Hayward, California wanted to break away from inefficient and ineffective processes for researching and launching programs, and remove organizational bottlenecks that stood in the way of serving citizens.

The old ways of gathering knowledge and assessing program value – like bloated task forces, poorly attended hearings, and expensive consultant reports based on “best practices” from other places – didn’t result in cost-effective services with high impact.

Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo didn’t want to accept the status quo.

“We needed to be out talking to the people we serve, and developing programs that were unique to our city’s needs,” McAdoo says.

McAdoo and the city needed a framework for empowering employees to test new ideas for services and reach out to the community. Moves The Needle provided Bootcamps, Accelerators and leadership programs to teach Hayward employees the “three Es” of Lean Innovation:

  • Empathy: understanding citizen pain points and desires.

  • Experimentation: translating insights into action, and reducing risk through assumption testing.

  • Evidence: making decisions quickly based on insights and actual citizen behavior.

Now that many employees have been trained in Lean Innovation, the City of Hayward is redefining how to govern and certifying internal coaches to support employees in working this way.

Task forces that took months to roll out, as well as costly, untested programs, are being replaced with response teams that talk directly with citizens and other city employees, and pilot programs that quickly test validity of ideas.

“Lean Innovation can give government agencies a methodology to break out of our traditional culture and improve resident satisfaction, empower employees, and maximize scarce resources,” McAdoo says.

“Employees have a new passion for their work, since they quickly see that their projects make citizens’ lives better. Citizens see city employees out in the community asking questions, which increases trust in local government. And since we’ve learned how to avoid costly, unnecessary projects, we’re better stewards of the budget. Just think of the possibilities if more government agencies had this tool in their toolbox.”

“Lean Innovation can give government agencies a methodology to break out of our traditional culture and improve resident satisfaction, empower employees, and maximize scarce resources.”
— Kelly McAdoo, Hayward City Manager

Lean Innovation in Action: Old Ways vs. New Ways

Using Empathy Instead of Making Assumptions

Hayward needed community input on a controversial 190-unit residential development. No residents near the development site had been attending community meetings, so city officials lacked feedback to approve the project.

The old way:

Hold town hall meetings that are poorly attended.

The new way:

Development Services Director Stacey Bristow sent one of many Hayward Empathy Action Response Teams (HEART) to personally visit nearby residents, engaging 194 households in just four hours. Residents had a lot to say, and their feedback was consistent.

The team learned that residents were worried about what the building would look like and whether it would block the sun in their yards – contrary to the city’s assumption that residents would mostly be concerned about traffic.

Residents wanted small retail shops included in the development, and worried about break-ins caused by people attracted to the site’s existing vacant building and lot.

Impact: Citizen Feedback Drives Changes to New Development  

Developers agreed to make architectural changes that would maintain nearby residents’ sunny yards and add one small retail shop. The city created rules requiring developers to demolish vacant buildings instead of trying to secure them.

In a bid to improve communication about proposed developments, the city expanded the radius for resident notification from 300 feet to 1,000 feet, redesigned notification postcards to be more inviting, and incorporated HEART in a comprehensive outreach policy for complex projects.

Using Evidence Before Establishing New Programs

The city was considering establishing a program to assist hoarders after responding to some cases and seeing negative local press about the problem in a sister city.

The old way:

Create a 20-person task force to study the problem for ten months at a cost of about $150,000, and likely borrow an expensive program model from another city without taking unique local needs into account.

The new way:

Talking to first responders to better understand the hoarding situation, and validating if the other city’s model would work for Hayward before implementing.

A small team found that first responders did not encounter the problem as often as assumed, and that the nearby city’s award-winning hoarder program wasn’t actually working. (Hoarders were turning down interventions, and county staff had not yet received the appropriate mental health training to deal with referrals.)

The team also found that Hayward did not have data around the scope of the hoarder problem, and needed to start documenting cases.

Impact: Saved $150,000 by putting hoarder program on hold

The city had enough information to decide not to move forward with a hoarder program for the moment, with an investment of only four people, six weeks and $6,000, saving about $145,000.

As a result of the team’s work, Alameda County consulted four county agencies on developing the necessary training to address hoarding. Hayward employees who were hesitant to pull the plug on the proposed program now realize they have “permission to fail” when evidence shows an initiative is not beneficial to citizens — and that sometimes no solution is better than investing in the wrong solution.

The ruggedized modems used in Hayward police patrol cars had reliability issues and were time-intensive for the IT department to maintain.

When the vendor decided to phase out the modems, it provided an opportunity to identify a more effective solution. The investment in modems totals about $150,000; the new modems would be in place for about five years.

Using Experimentation to Explore Options

The old way:

Select and install a solution across the entire fleet, with minimal evidence that the new modems would avoid previous connectivity and maintenance issues.

The new way:

The city’s IT Department and Police Department partnered to test technology options in just one patrol vehicle over 30 days, and gather frequent patrol car user and IT feedback to learn quickly and minimize risk. The test quickly uncovered GPS configuration issues that could disrupt driving directions for patrol car users.

The IT team identified a solution that could be applied fleet-wide, a 66-83% time saving compared to fixing each vehicle manually if all patrol cars received modems at once. The pilot also allowed the team to test and validate the impact of an additional product that will result in more than 30% additional time savings.

Once patrol car users gave positive feedback on the modem, the pilot was expanded incrementally to more vehicles.

Impact: Pilot test of patrol-car modem achieves significant time savings for IT and the police force

With a small-scale test, the team was able to explore options, quickly work through challenges, and avoid the financial risk of rolling out a fleet-wide solution that might be ineffective.


Final Thoughts

This video highlights our three-day innovation boot camp with the City of Hayward where we helped employees tackle the tricky problems listed above.

The City of Hayward used the 3 E’s of Lean Innovation to make drastic shifts in the collective thinking and functioning of their entire organization. These changes had a direct and noticeable effect on the city’s ability to provide cost-effective services that drive deep impact.

If your municipality is experiencing similar setbacks, you’re not alone.

Whether maximizing impact for stakeholders or building an economic engine to do good, municipalities and social impact organizations must innovate to tackle uncertainty, remain relevant and thrive in a changing world.

Our social impact program is specially equipped to help municipalities and other social impact organizations drive impact more effectively.  

Contact us for more information on how to get started.

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