Johnson County is the most populous county in the state of Kansas and WaterOne has steadily grown with it, providing a water system that has sustained its robust economic growth since 1957. Today, WaterOne's service area covers 272 square miles and nearly 425,000 customers who enjoy WaterOne’s reliable service quality, competitive rates, commitment to investing in and maintaining sound infrastructure, as well as uncompromising business practices.
WaterOne had grown rapidly — mostly through merging legacy water districts — and as a result, found itself with a set of guiding principles, core values, and strategic imperatives for its distribution division that had “evolved” over time. Their evolutionary approach reached a point where differences of leadership styles, communication approaches, and prioritization of work started to erode productivity and morale.
The leaders at WaterOne determined a deep and comprehensive approach to set organization-wide guiding principles (and associated operational norms) was needed to bring alignment across the distribution division.
Team Tipton had worked with two other parts of WaterOne in the past — in particular, the water quality lab. Our approach of using our “Design the Future Process” was successful in bringing about alignment, increasing productivity, and raising morale for the lab — so WaterOne’s leadership asked us to do something similar for the distribution division.
We designed and facilitated a process called “High-Respect, High-Performance” (WaterOne’s preferred naming of our DTFP) for the distribution division. Leveraging a trusted cross-section of staff in the distribution division (from senior management to field workers, from long-time employees to brand-new employees), Team Tipton led WaterOne’s distribution division through a process to create a clear, unambiguous, aligned and resourced implementation plan designed to drive up both respect and performance.
As a result of the “High-Respect, High-Performance” process, some long-held points of confusion and irritation (hiring practices, promotion, rewards and recognition, discipline, job scheduling, leadership communication, crew make-up, safety, etc.) were finally addressed.
By developing a set of aligned, resourced actions, WaterOne’s distribution division’s performance (quality, safety, timeliness, emergency responsiveness) significantly, and morale within the group increased dramatically. Trust across the division (workers, supervisors, managers, etc.) leaped forward, and overall job satisfaction and quality of work improved.