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Layne LeBleu: Working with zombies, sticky notes, and Sour Patch Kids

Several years ago, the City of Hillsboro, Oregon launched a program that gave employees the opportunity to temporarily step out of their everyday jobs and work in small groups tasked with solving long-standing issues.

Figuring out how to make Hillsboro a more attractive employer was the first challenge the team was tasked with. The next team, which included engineering technician Layne LeBleu in 2018, tackled the idea of launching a municipal mentorship program for both fulltime and part-time employees.

Its success was encapsulated in a presentation LeBleu and his colleagues delivered during the Alliance for Innovation’s 2019 Transforming Local Government (TLG) conference in Reno, Nevada. Afterward, LeBleu sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner to discuss the program.

Empowering Local Government Mentorship

“It started off, day one we didn’t have anything. Then by day 23, we had a pilot,” he said. “We take them though success training to give them the right tools, the right mindset, to help these mentorship partnerships flourish. It’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

LeBleu said the program is already looking to expand to 24 individuals. Another sign of success, he added, isn’t just how many people want to come into the program. It is also how many people are looking to stay with the program once they are involved.

That enthusiasm, LeBleu explains in the video, is one of the main reasons he enjoys working for the City of Hillsboro. The city has “a fantastic culture,” he said. It is “very diverse” and open to community input either through public meetings or at council meetings. This spirit was made part of the mentorship program, which LeBleu said included a focus on ensuring the initiative was equitable and provided open access to everyone.

Zombies, Sticky Notes, and Sour Patch Kids

LeBleu also discussed his team’s colourfully named presentation at TLG 2019 – Zombies, Sticky Notes, and Sour Patch Kids.

Zombies, he said, can represent many different things, but has to do with removing yourself from the rut of always doing things the same way. The sticky notes, he explained, were often used as a problem-solving technique, allowing team members to share ideas.

And then there were the Sour Patch Kids.

“We needed sugar. It’s intense. Working 23 days with a small group is intense,” LeBleu said. “That’s what I liked about it. We were all very positive. There was great camaraderie and you need that. All of us were very passionate about it and gave the very best of ourselves.”  MW

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