Denver Peak Academy has had the privilege of training over 900 individuals representing over 200 agencies from outside of the City and County of Denver. Many of these participants attend training with the goal of building their own process improvement programs similar to Peak. One program that got their start through Black Belt training is the City of Miami’s Innovation Academy, with Michael Sarasti (Cohort 60) and Cheriene Floyd (Cohort 63.5).


About the Miami Innovation Academy

The Miami Innovation Academy is a two-and-a-half day intensive and hands-on process improvement training. The attendees learn a series of innovation techniques (i.e. process mapping, waste identification, experiment design) to help see and solve problems in their work. In order to attend, each participant must propose an existing problem that they would like to tackle. The problem must fall within their area of control and they must have some involvement in part of the work impacted by the problem. The program has trained 260 employees from the City of Miami and now has a strong focus on following-up and supporting innovations.


Bright Spot Q&A: Cheriene FloydCity of Miami Strategic Planning & Performance Manager (Black Belt Cohort 63.5)

Who is on the Miami Innovation Academy Team?

What’s cool (and terrifying) is that we still don’t have a single employee fully dedicated to Miami Innovation Academy.  A few years ago, when my colleague (Mike Sarasti) and I were introduced to Peak Academy, we knew we wanted to do something similar in Miami. At the time we both had one person on our respective teams and a lot of responsibility. With the help of Brian Elms, we figured out how to make process improvement a part of what we do without adding additional resources. We also tell everyone who’s taken the course that they are automatically part of our teaching squad. We have a few regulars that really embrace it and show up to teach for every cohort. Now that Mike leads the Department of Innovation & Technology, we involve our business analyst teams in teaching and they also help support some innovation projects.

What have been the highlights of your trainings so far?

Our Procurement department continues to impress us. The department director and her assistant were two of the first to get trained in the City of Miami. After their experience, the director made sure her entire department was trained and gave them space to innovate. They’ve implemented a combination of process, policy, and technology changes that have dramatically improved payments to vendors and Request for Quotation for the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) bids. They reduced the time it takes for A&E proposers to submit by two days (per RFQ). They reduced A&E due diligence review by two weeks (per RFQ). They’ve also improved the speed of payments to vendors payments by reducing backlog by up to 7 days.

We’re super proud that they’ve become an example nationally.  They were recently featured in a Bloomberg Cities article.

What are some of the innovations that have come from the City of Miami employees?

There’s a range. We have a few with citywide impact such as standardizing intake of project requests. The Planning Department made it easier for their customers to obtain information and submit requests for hearing online.  Communications stopped converting video requests to DVD and provide them via electronic transfer. Innovation & Technology has done a few things around standardizing support tickets for our electronic plan review system and project requests.

As mentioned earlier, Procurement has several in play:

  • Modification of the forms to reduce and simplify Architecture and Engineering Contract process.
  • Request W-9’s upfront to expedite the payment to vendors.
  • Policy changes that reduce the amount of time to takes to review Architecture and Engineering Requests for Quotations.

What advice do you have for cities interested in starting their own programs?

I have a lot of thoughts and lessons learned from the past two years. I think it’s important to know that there’s no one size fits all innovation program. Going in – you must know your organization and be responsive to those needs. We’ve made several adjustments over the past two years, and honestly, we’re still adjusting.

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