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MRSC Insight Blog


Posts by Lynn Nordby

Employee Recognition Programs

Employee Recognition Programs

October 26, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Compensation

Acknowledging a job well done can be a powerful motivator for your employees. However, local governments must consider constitutional prohibitions against gifts. Consultant Lynn Nordby explores this restriction and offers some guidance on creating employee recognition programs that won't run afoul of the law. 

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Emergency Planning 101

Emergency Planning 101

September 7, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Emergency Management

Does your community have an emergency plan? Is it strong enough and written in a way to serve as an organizing document during what is likely to be a tumultuous time? Consultant Lynn Nordby urges readers to follow the Scout motto and “Be Prepared”— for anything.

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New Options for Creating Fire and Metro Park Districts

New Options for Creating Fire and Metro Park Districts

July 31, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Special Districts

The 2017 legislative session yielded new options for establishing a fire and/or metro park district. Consultant Lynn Nordby looks at these changes. 

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Don’t Get Hacked - Cybersecurity Basics

Don’t Get Hacked - Cybersecurity Basics

May 24, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Cybersecurity

You don’t have to be an information technology (IT) professional to be a soldier in the cybersecurity war. This blog post looks at some basic steps that anyone, or any worksite, can implement. 

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Succession Planning: Navigating the Incoming Wave

Succession Planning: Navigating the Incoming Wave

April 3, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

The accelerating retirement of public sector workers born between 1946-64 is predicted to hit like a wave. This post looks as what some local governments in Washington are doing to plan for the expected leadership turnover. 

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Homelessness & Housing Toolkit Provides Best Practices, Real-World Examples for Washington Cities

Homelessness & Housing Toolkit Provides Best Practices, Real-World Examples for Washington Cities

February 21, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Tools for Planners , Homelessness

MRSC and AWC have partnered to document methods being employed by cities and counties to address the concurrent issues of homelessness and housing affordabilityin the Homelessness & Housing Toolkit for Cities. 

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Don’t Do That! Part Two

Don’t Do That! Part Two

February 1, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

Part 2 of this 2-part series on the “worst” leadership habits identifies at least one, agreed-upon bad habit that leaders everywhere should avoid at all costs.

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Don’t Do That! Part One

Don’t Do That! Part One

January 25, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

There's plenty of space devoted to what makes a good leader but the habits and characteristics of poor leaders are equally compelling.  This post, 1 of a 2-part series, summarizes what various observers identify as the habits and practices most leaders should take care to avoid.  

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Take Advantage of the End of the Year

Take Advantage of the End of the Year

December 1, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Emergency Management , Administrative and Elected Officials

The end of the year is typically a busy time for local governments, but it also offers opportunities to help orient newly elected officials and to review citywide emergency management plans.

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Local Leadership: When the Professional and the Personal Collide

Local Leadership: When the Professional and the Personal Collide

October 17, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

Government leaders who live and work in their community can enjoy a host of benefits, such as enhanced relationships with constituents, but what happens when the line between the public persona and the private one blurs? Using his own experiences as a city administrator, Lynn Norby discusses the lessons he learned in trying to balance the personal with the professional.

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Compass Crossing: New Homelessness Project Connects Efficiency with Responsiveness

Compass Crossing: New Homelessness Project Connects Efficiency with Responsiveness

August 5, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Homelessness

A look at an innovative new homeless housing project in Seattle from Compass Housing Alliance and OneBuild.

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Better, Faster, Cheaper: Sometimes Front Line Workers Are the Best Problem Solvers

Better, Faster, Cheaper: Sometimes Front Line Workers Are the Best Problem Solvers

May 4, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Problems that seem intractable at the management level, can often be fixed by those employees that understand the processes the best.

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3 Innovative Local Approaches to Tackling Homelessness

3 Innovative Local Approaches to Tackling Homelessness

March 4, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Homelessness

You can tell from the lines on her face
You can see that she's been there
Probably been moved on from every place
'Cause she didn't fit in there

-Phil Collins, Another Day in Paradise

In my last blog post, Read more | 0 comments


New Strategies to End Homelessness

New Strategies to End Homelessness

January 12, 2016 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Homelessness

As the conversation around homelessness picks back up, here are three innovative strategies that may provide good models.

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The Christmas Storm Redux: 6 Lessons in Emergency Management

The Christmas Storm Redux: 6 Lessons in Emergency Management

October 28, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Emergency Management

With winter storm season soon upon us, here are six tips for responding to emergency situations.

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Getting Your Newly Elected Officials Ready to Hit the Ground Running

Getting Your Newly Elected Officials Ready to Hit the Ground Running

September 15, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Administrative and Elected Officials

Every election cycle potentially introduces new members to your policy board or chief executive’s office. You have an opportunity to give the newly elected members of the team a “leg up” so that they can begin their term of office as ready as possible on day one.

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Is Leadership Overrated?

Is Leadership Overrated?

June 11, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

Sometimes true leadership means being a good follower.

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Public Management Lessons From A Bond Issue Obstacle Course

Public Management Lessons From A Bond Issue Obstacle Course

March 30, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

During my time as a city administrator for Enumclaw, one of the projects I worked on was the development of a new library in the heart of town. With land secured, significant community support, and a bond issue ready for voters, I thought the project would be a cakewalk. However, I soon learned that things aren’t always as easy as they appear; getting the project done required maneuvering through an obstacle course of issues. The experience was challenging, but also taught me a number of important lessons about public management.

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Do Public Employees Lose Their Freedom of Speech?

Do Public Employees Lose Their Freedom of Speech?

February 3, 2015 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Administrative and Elected Officials

I suspect every local government executive has experienced the situation where an employee unexpectedly steps to the microphone during a public comment period or gets a letter published about a government issue in a local newspaper. When this happens can, or should, the executive prevent an employee from speaking out on issues or take any action against an employee?

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Easy and Effective Common Sense Risk Management

Easy and Effective Common Sense Risk Management

December 2, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Managing risk for your agency doesn’t always require sophisticated or expensive systems or extra staff resources. Sometimes a few simple, low cost, common sense procedures can be implemented that protect your organization from liability.
 

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Employee Satisfaction Pays

Employee Satisfaction Pays

September 29, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Administration and Management

This report on the CBS Sunday Morning broadcast of August 31 offers more evidence in support of the proposition I made in a previous MRSC Insight blog post, Employee Satisfaction: What Goes Around Comes Around, that satisfied employees are good for your "brand". In that post I described how..

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Block Grants Celebrate the “Big 4-0” and Other Updates from HUD

Block Grants Celebrate the “Big 4-0” and Other Updates from HUD

August 11, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Revenues , Housing

I recently received an email update from the Northwest Regional Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that noted some interesting facts and...

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The Ultimate Leadership Top Ten List

The Ultimate Leadership Top Ten List

July 15, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

We’re good at making lists. Any time spent on one of the Internet search engine home pages will reveal at least one “Top Ten This”  or “15 Things That” of one kind or another, every day. Recently, looking...

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Off With His Head!

Off With His Head!

June 5, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

 Off with their heads!!! Courtesy of Heather Wizell.
Criticism of the Veterans Administration hospital system over the revelations of massive failures brought about the resignation of retired General Shinseki...

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June Department of Revenue Partnership Meetings Offer Opportunity for State/Local Collaboration

June Department of Revenue Partnership Meetings Offer Opportunity for State/Local Collaboration

April 8, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Finance

The Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR)  has scheduled its annual Local Government Partnership meetings, one in Western Washington at Tumwater on June 4th, and another in Eastern Washington at Pasco on June 11th. This is a great opportunity...

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

February 19, 2014 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

With the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl win this year, much has been written about the successful coaching style of Pete Carroll. Indeed, from a leadership perspective, there are few, if any, better examples of effective leadership than...

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The Paralysis of Analysis

The Paralysis of Analysis

November 21, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

“A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week." - George S. Patton
Clearly the General was talking about a battle plan, but I've heard this point paraphrased in regard to just about any activity. What makes this so?

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Flying Lessons for Leaders and Managers

Flying Lessons for Leaders and Managers

September 3, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

I’ve always been fascinated by powered flight. From the earliest days of aviation to the heroes that pushed the boundaries of technology and braved combat high above the earth, it has been a lifelong interest. I think there are some “flying lessons” every manager can use on the ground or in the air.

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Speed Dating: It

Speed Dating: It's Not Just for Your Social Life Anymore

July 26, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Public Participation

I was recently recruited by my eldest son to participate in a process to help develop a new generation of civically involved young adults. My first...

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Missing a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

Missing a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

June 4, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Finance

Historians are going to look back at this time in our nation’s history and shake their heads at the opportunities cities, counties, states, and school districts failed to capitalize on. With interest rates at the...

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Making a Difference

Making a Difference

April 19, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

I've always held the opinion that most of my colleagues in public management and, indeed most public employees, are generally motivated by a call to service. To borrow from an old U.S. Army recruiting slogan, “It's...

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When One Budget Closes Another One Opens (But Where’s the Cash?)

When One Budget Closes Another One Opens (But Where’s the Cash?)

January 29, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Budgets and Budgeting

It may seem too soon to be discussing budget questions on how to deal with your ending cash balance, or maybe too late; but, we’re still asked about the proper way to handle some of the uncertainty...

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Employee Satisfaction: What Goes Around Comes Around

Employee Satisfaction: What Goes Around Comes Around

January 2, 2013 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Administration and Management

Happy employees are goodwill ambassadors for your brand, whether it’s selling a product or delivering public service. In his book “Extreme Government Makeover," Ken Miller describes ...

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Be Sure You

Be Sure You're Right, Then Go Ahead (Management lessons from Davy Crockett)

October 15, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

“Be sure you’re right, then go ahead”
This quote was attributed to Davy Crockett in the 1950s Disney television series. It was a simple moral lesson for the young viewers in the audience absorbed in watching once a week the adventures of Fess Parker in his coonskin cap portray the legendary 19th century...

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The Three Envelopes

The Three Envelopes

August 23, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Early in my career, I heard the only actual city manager joke I can recall.

It tells the story of a young assistant about to accept his first position as a city manager. He...

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Close Enough for Government Work

July 20, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

There are always words or catch phrases that capture people’s imaginations and seem to be just the right shorthand to express a thought or make a point.  After a while though, they simply lose their impact through overuse and are no longer clever...

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Getting What You Want Through Foresight and Creativity

Getting What You Want Through Foresight and Creativity

June 25, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Sometimes foresight and creativity are needed to set up an opportunity; other times they are needed to use an opportunity that is presented to you.  Either way, be the facilitator. Great satisfaction in public service comes from seeing what foresight and creativity can do for your community.

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Big Results with a Small Gesture

June 20, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Sometimes only a small gesture of appreciation can generate lasting benefits.
The study session with the city council seemed to last forever.  I had prepared a report on a policy issue involving one of the utilities owned and operated by the city, and the city council had a lot of questions for me after I’d delivered my presentation.  They weren’t particularly hostile - just detailed and...

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LED Streetlighting - Shedding Light on the Subject

LED Streetlighting - Shedding Light on the Subject

May 8, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Energy Resources and Conservation

At a recent meeting of city managers from King County and Snohomish County, representatives from Seattle City Light and the city of Shoreline presented information about the move to convert street lighting...

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A Conversation with Fred Jarrett Part 2: Lean Principles

A Conversation with Fred Jarrett Part 2: Lean Principles

April 27, 2012 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Management

Dow Constantine came into office as the King County Executive in 2010 with an ambitious reform agenda that was quickly set in motion through the county’s new strategic plan and some key...

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