Utah Ops Conference: Building on Success

Pete CodellaArticles

The 2016 Utah Ops Conference, presented by Gov. Gary R. Herbert and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), will take place September 8 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Now in its third year, the conference is designed to support government organizations in improving quality by providing more value for every tax dollar invested. We sat down with Kristen Cox, GOMB executive director, to learn more about what the event offers to government, nonprofit and business employees across the state.

The Utah Ops Conference is based on the SUCCESS Framework. How would you characterize SUCCESS?
All of the tools, the concepts, the applications—everything we’re doing is based on the SUCCESS Framework. It’s about setting goals, using thinking tools, creating strategy and developing excellent execution. As one of the fastest growing states, our goal is to bend the cost curve of government while providing better quality services. We are very mindful that the private sector and individual taxpayer are the engine of our economy. We want government to be both efficient and effective while reducing the burden on those who pay for it.

This year, we’re also going to be talking a lot about something called WIP, or work-in-progress, that really focuses on managing the amount of work that comes through your systems.

We hear a lot of talk about applying business principles to government. What does that mean in practice?
The “theory of constraints” (TOC) has a whole process and approach to thinking and innovation that has been adopted by companies like Boeing, Panasonic, Mazda—the list goes on and on. We’ve been working with TOC to refine it for government. In social work, for example, everyone across the country has been talking about coordinating case management for decades. People have been approaching it from a policy standpoint or by throwing big data solutions at it, but that doesn’t solve the core problem. It’s actually a tactical, logistical solution.
Our goal at this conference is to identify core problems, get focus and clarity and then identify solutions that are very practical.

What can businesses learn at this conference?
We’ll be doing some great case studies and training on excellent execution and bringing vision to reality. I don’t care if you’re in an office environment, a software development environment or a transactional environment, you have to think about how to resource-load your system so that you can be as efficient as possible. We’ll be sharing some seemingly counter-intuitive concepts. For example, most people assume that the earlier you start something, the earlier you’ll complete it. In fact, that’s not always true, and there are specific ways you can load your system for maximum impact.

Comedian Ryan Hamilton will take the stage during lunch this year. What’s his role in the conference?
He’s going to make us laugh so we don’t cry. [laughs] Although the solutions to these complex issues are often easy, diving into these systems can feel overwhelming. Ryan is from Idaho, is a BYU alumnus, and currently lives in New York City. He is hilarious and will help us take a break from the challenging topics of the day.

What’s new and exciting this year?
We’ll be announcing the roll-out of an online portal where individuals can access the basic concepts of improving performance and start applying them in their organizations.
This year, the conference also includes a three-hour leadership track that will be limited to only 80 people. This session will expose participants to some of the best thinking tools in the world. We believe anyone can be a genius if you know how to think clearly.