Dalton Weisshaar attended the Peak Academy Black Belt training in July of 2016 and in just four short months, he has already completed four innovations. Those innovations have saved the city nearly $10,000. Dalton is also working to complete his degree in accounting (with expected graduation in August 2017) and works in the city’s Department of Treasury. Recently, he won the Department of Finance’s Innovator Award.
Dalton’s first innovation was a production board, the tool to help teams track workflow in a visual, shared manner (think shared calendar). Team members can take a quick look and know exactly where something is in production. Dalton saw the production board used by the city’s Tax Collections team and decided to create something similar for Treasury. He designed and deployed a board to track the chargebacks that come through the Chase payment website. He also updated the chargeback procedures and created a form letter to institutionalize a standard method for contacting taxpayers to notify them that a new payment was necessary. Dalton said, “Previously the only way to verify if a chargeback had been properly reversed was to re-search for the receipt, re-print the receipt, find the parcel, and complete three additional steps. But now all the user needs to do is check the production board, which has all of the relevant information, making it easier to find additional documentation if necessary.”
In addition to the production board, Dalton created a “redemption quote template” that calculates a redemption estimate automatically. Prior to this innovation, Dalton’s colleagues were hesitant to calculate redemption quotes due to the number of steps involved. Some were also making math mistakes and felt unsure about the calculations. With Dalton’s innovation, quotes are now generated faster and with a higher level of accuracy. Dalton also looked at the most common requests for information about available tax liens and formulated a one-page standard response which answers the most frequently asked questions.
Dalton’s innovations stood out because they contained a robust narrative of what went well and what could have gone better. He sought input from others and was quick to give credit to his teammates for helping him. Since he attended the Peak training, many of his colleagues now send their ideas and innovations to him.
“I have tried to focus my innovations on small changes that are 100% within my control,” said Dalton said. “I have tried to look at things that make my job, and the jobs of my colleagues, more complicated and time consuming than necessary and focus on how to make those things simpler, easier, and faster. My main focus has been on how to reduce the amount of time I spend each day on tasks that add no value to my work or to our citizens.”
Melissa Wiley manages Denver Peak Academy. Prior to leading the team, she served as a lead analyst for Denver Animal Protection (Denver Animal Shelter) and the Department of Excise and Licenses. She has taught nearly 150 courses on process improvement and data to employees throughout the City and County of Denver, within the private sector, and in local nonprofit organizations. She has been with Denver Peak Academy since 2012. She previously worked for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the United States Department of State. She holds a Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys playing guitar, yoga, trail running, and leading the Denver Animal Shelter's Jog-a-Dog volunteer program. She lives in a suburb of Denver with her husband Craig. Her mission is to infuse joy into all areas of public service.
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