What’s on your dashboard?

Governor Snyder presented his first State-of-the-State address last night, and delivered a message consistent with what he has said throughout his campaign and in the months following his election success: Michigan’s economy needs a boost, and the most immediate outcome that boost needs to generate is jobs.

 His speech was targeted more at the big ideas of where he intends to lead the state, but he did share a few more concrete examples to help illustrate his intention. One of those examples was the Michigan Dashboard – a quick way of documenting the metrics that he feels we need to improve. These are the metrics that will tell us whether his programs and other changes that the Legislature enacts are leading towards the creation of new jobs for Michigan residents.

 The metrics are organized in five categories: Economic Strength, Health and Education, Value for Government, Quality of Life and Public Safety. Among those five categories, 21 individual metrics are listed, and for each, data from the previous five years are given, and comparisons to other states are listed as well.

 The notion that government would be held accountable to a set of metrics isn’t entirely new. Six years ago, leadership in the Legislature determined that they wanted to use an accountability methodology based on the book “The Price of Government,” authored by David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson. Unfortunately, leadership in the House was more interested than leadership in the Senate, and the governor’s office seemed even less interested in that approach. Even so, at that time, my predecessor, Maggie Bethel, led the charge to show how Michigan State University Extension was able to deliver on the metrics of concern to legislators, and MSUE took the effort more seriously than any other organization inside or outside of state government. The impact papers that Maggie and her communications team generated were remarkable and have continued to influence the way we communicate about MSUE with decision makers.

 Governor Snyder’s approach may be more lasting, if for no other reason than the fact that it is originating from the Executive branch this time. Whether it lasts or not, I think it’s prudent for MSUE staff to once again ask ourselves how we contribute or can contribute to improving the metrics on the dashboard.

 For example, work our state and local government team conducts that assists local governments in finding ways to collaborate on services across jurisdictional lines should help to improve the metric on state and local government operating costs as a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Work we do on nutrition education should help to improve on infant mortality, obesity in the population and college readiness. Our Greening Michigan teams can contribute to the clean and safe water resources water quality index. And there are others.

 We need to challenge ourselves to be able to show how our work is contributing to these metrics. They are not our only means of accountability, but they are among our important means of accountability. I challenge each of you to think about how your work and the productivity of your work team can contribute to one or more of these 21 metrics. Where appropriate, we need to build these into our logic models as metrics for measuring our program impacts.

 I’d like to hear from you with your ideas about MSUE contributing to these metrics. Before you hit the “reply” button and send your ideas just to me, please make a few more clicks by going to my blog and add your suggestions as comments to this posting so that others in MSUE, on your work team and outside of MSUE can read your thoughts as well.

 This is a time when we need to be able to once again rise to the challenge, and with the same confidence and boldness that Maggie demonstrated in 2005, speak clearly and demonstrate the value of MSUE for Michigan’s future.


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7 responses to “What’s on your dashboard?

  1. Tom Dudek

    The efforts that we are involved in within the Ornamentals work group and Business Management work group of the Ag Institute( as I am writing my POW) clearly fit with maintaining jobs and businesses with in Agriculture in Michigan.
    Business management efforts in cost of production software, greenhouse leasing templates and energy audits are tools our clients can use to increase profitability and continue to have ag jobs available to workers in our state.

    • msuespotlight

      Clearly these are the kinds of steps that are called for both in our redesign and in the Governor’s goal setting. As we proceed with these much-needed actions, we need to continually ask ourselves what indicators will tell us and others that our work is making a difference in ways that enhance Michigan’s economy.

  2. Dee Williams

    I am so thankful you share your weekly news with retirees. Sounds like MSUE continues to be on the cutting edge. Keep up the good work.

    • msuespotlight

      Thanks for your ongoing interest, Dee. Your insights have served us well in the past, and I hope you’ll continue to share them as we move forward. Your vision for the strengthening the global impacts of MSUE is very relevant today, and your leadership did a great deal to put us and our programs at the cutting edge!

  3. Brian Klatt

    Governor Snyder specifically mentioned the MNRTF program in regards to providing economic resources throughout the state, while at the same time providing new recreational opportunities. A group of us at MNFI, along with on-campus faculty, and Dean Solomon are developing a program proposal that will specifically benefit the MNRTF program by enhancing the local planning capabilities throughout all (no exaggeration) communities in Michigan. The kernel of the idea actually came out of staff from the MNRTF program, as well as experience I had before my MSUE days, and past MNFI efforts. Since it’s inception, the idea has grown into a much richer concept and has evolved from being thought of as a project to being thought of as a program, thanks to enhancements suggested by faculty and Dean. In a nutshell it calls for making natural resource information available via the web, provided through an online viewer that would require no special software (just a browser and internet connection at the local level) and a knowledge repository, which could be used with a decision support tool that would allow local planners to evaluate explicitly and incorporate conservation considerations into comprehensive planning efforts that identify and consider local values (identified through a participatory research project). A logic model has already been developed for the core idea and aspects of enhancements. Additionally, the effort to more fully develop the program has been submitted as a logic model under the “Natural Resource Appreciation and Stewardship” workgroup of the GMI. I am also working on a one page summary of the project, which can be used to shop it around in the DNR. Those currently working on the idea, besides myself, are: Pat Norris, Geoff Habron, Christine Vogt, Dean Solomon, Phyllis Higman, John Paskus, and Ed Schools.

  4. msuespotlight

    This is exactly what we’ve envisioned as we’ve challenged ourselves to “embrace” technology as a tool that can help us to reach more broadly and deeply across Michigan, equipping people, organizations and communities with the tools they need to make 21st Century decisions. Thanks to this team for their leadership!

  5. Kendra Wills

    In addition to our own metrics, I think we need to be sure we are also working toward improving the metrics embraced by Gov. Snyder. Can we prove 4-H participation or our mentoring programs help 3rd graders read at grade level? One way I think we can contribute to college graduation rates and college graduate retention in MI is for ALL MSUE offices to host 1-3 student interns each year. This increases their work experience, gives them exposure to career opportunities and may provide useful job search contacts and references. We can do this at very little cost as I rarely pay my student interns. I also think all District Extension Councils should have youth representatives and well as 24-34 year old representatives.