Take part in Richfield's strategic planning process

According to research done by the Harvard Business Journal, 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy, 50 percent spend no time at all. Not a great indicator of organizational success. The City of Richfield is taking a different tack by creating its own strategic plan.

“Richfield has had a lot of success planning for its future over the past decades,” said City Manager Katie Rodriguez. “The previous planning processes helped usher in a more than $440 million redevelopment boom, but with so many needs across the various departments, a long-term plan should be created to ensure that we focus our resources on our greatest needs.” 

The city’s strategic plan will identify goals for the organization internally, and the city as a whole. With population demographics changing, recent elected official turnover and new additions to the city’s leadership team, a unified approach to decision making and resource allocation is crucial.

Police Chief Jay Henthorne uses the example of traffic safety to illustrate the importance of strategic planning.

“If through the strategic planning process we are hearing from residents that they are deeply concerned about a rash of traffic safety issues, such as impaired drivers, speeding or crashes, we are going to look at ways to enhance enforcement,” acknowledged Chief Henthorne. “At both the Richfield Police Department, and citywide, we want to offer the highest quality services possible. This planning process will allow us to do that both efficiently and effectively.”  

The strategic plan aims to create a road map that will guide city leaders for the next 3-5 years.

“On top of setting long-term and short-term goals for the city, the strategic plan also identifies environmental pressures facing the organization and the city’s residents,” explained management analyst Chris Swanson. “When all is said and done, we should have a clear picture of what the community wants for the future and steps we can take to get there.”   

City staff has already started working on the organization’s internal environmental scan and profile, which is the first step in the strategic planning process. At the same time, staff is launching an extensive engagement campaign to obtain feedback from residents, businesses, schools and other city organizations. 

The engagement process will include a public survey, focus groups and community meetings.

Richfield residents and other city stakeholders can take the strategic planning survey by visiting:  polco.us/s5t5bq. A Spanish language version of the survey is also available at: polco.us/segv9y.

The focus group rosters and community meetings are being finalized during the first weeks of January. More information about these two engagement efforts will be made available soon.    

“Richfield’s strategic plan is nothing without contributions and engagement from our residents,” stated Public Works Department Director Kristin Asher. “In order for the plan to be reflective of residents’ needs and aspirations, we need to hear from the public by filling out the survey, participating in the focus groups and attending community meetings.” 

Once both the internal data collection and conversations are paired with the public engagement process, a preliminary and then the final report will be presented, reviewed and adopted by the city council as part of the 2023 budget process.

Where the 2023 Richfield Strategic Plan may be the first formal attempt to create an organization-wide roadmap, individual city departments have been relying on their own decision-making plans, in some cases, for decades.

“The Community Development Department has led the city’s Comprehensive Planning process since the 1960s. The Comprehensive Plan is similar to a strategic plan in that it gathers data and public input, sets goals and develops a plan to meet those goals,” informed Housing Manager Julie Urban.

Much like the Comprehensive Plan, which guides Richfield’s redevelopment efforts, the strategic plan brings residents together to create a collective vision for the services the city offers.

“Once a strategic plan is in place it allows for everyone, residents, staff, elected officials and other city partners, to push together to achieve a collective goal,” remarked Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez. “But, to ensure that we create a plan that meets the needs of our city we need as much community participation in the process as possible.”