Robert O’Neill, executive director of ICMA, in writing about high performance, identifies the necessity of “creating powerful meaning for those who work within our organizations.” The City of Durham, North Carolina, began an initiative in 2003, called DurhamFirst to create a high performing organization. A highly successful aspect of DurhamFirst has been to identify the organization’s core values and to recognize employees for demonstrating these values. Employees can be nominated for recognition by other employees and by citizens. Other important components of DurhamFirst have involved developing leaders at all levels of the organization and building on strengths.
This case study was submitted to the Alliance for Innovation for consideration at the 2010 Transforming Local Government conference.