Written by Lance Leonhard
As outlined in our 2018–2022 Strategic Plan, Marathon County’s overarching goal is:
To be the healthiest, safest, and most prosperous county in Wisconsin.
Pursing that goal with ever-tightening budgets — while simultaneously addressing growing needs in infrastructure, mental health, criminal justice, and substance-abuse addiction — is no small task. Furthermore, addressing budget shortfalls by simply cutting government programs is not a viable solution. Residents of Marathon County deserve a more thoughtful, all-encompassing approach to tending to our fiscal challenges.
We also need to build staff skills and knowledge to help make our County employees as efficient and effective as possible. That’s why earlier this month, Marathon County took an important step in that direction by hiring our first Organizational Excellence Program Manager: Molly Bennett.
So, what does our Organizational Excellence Program Manager do?
Well, Molly’s first day on the job was Monday, April 8, 2019, so she’s just getting started. But ultimately, she’s going to coordinate our Continuous Improvement and Leadership Development Programs.
- Our Continuous Improvement Program focuses on the principle that we can improve service quality and efficiency by making small, incremental improvements and by eliminating waste. In a manufacturing setting, this approach is often referred to as “lean production.” Molly will help us better understand how to use process improvement tools and strategies like value-stream mapping, fishbone diagrams, root-cause analysis, spaghetti diagrams, and A-3s to help us provide better services to the residents of Marathon County.
- Our Leadership Development Program aims to ensure that our supervisors and managers have the tools to they need to lead our workforce of approximately 700 employees and to align our resources to tackle our community’s most pressing issues.
Throughout 2018, we did a great deal of groundwork, researching other successful Continuous Improvement and Leadership Development programs. By early 2019, we still hadn’t found someone with the right combination of skills and drive to oversee these programs.
But, that search is over. . .
We’re proud to now have Molly Bennett on our team, and we’re excited to get things underway!
Below is just some of what we learned about Molly at our “meet-and-greet” to let you in on the details of our newest hire at our County offices . . .
Q. What interested you in the Organizational Excellence Program Manager position?
A. When I read the position description, I knew it was meant to be. I felt as though this was the job I had been preparing for my entire career.
I’ve always had a passion for training and development and have gained a great deal of experience in continuous improvement through my work with General Motors (GM). During my time at GM, I had the privilege to work throughout the organization — like at the global headquarters in Detroit; dealerships throughout Wisconsin and its neighboring states; and at an international call center in the Philippines — using and teaching others the tools and principles of lean to improve job efficiency and performance.
Having the opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, to use my knowledge and experience to help others, is a dream come true. I’m looking forward to working with the employees of Marathon County to make a positive impact on their work environment and in the community I now call home.
Q. What do you think of the job so far?
A. Well, it’s only my third day, but I know this is where I’m meant to be. I received such a warm welcome from so many wonderful people. There’s no doubt in my mind that my work here will be extremely rewarding and fun, and I’m really happy to be a part of such a great team.
I can already see that Marathon County has a strong foundation to build on. There was a team in place in 2012 that had some great successes; now we simply need to find a way to make our successes more sustainable. The staff here are truly excited about delving further into process improvement, so my first step is to put together a curriculum that I can deliver that empowers our employees and helps them be more efficient and effective in their daily work.
Q. While you certainly have a lot on your plate at work, what do you like to do in your free time?
A. I spend most of my free time with my fiancé Dejan and our newly adopted hound dog Georgie.
I love the outdoors and take every opportunity I can to hike, bike, camp, and take advantage of all the natural beauty North Central Wisconsin has to offer. Although I love Wisconsin, in the summer, we also spend weekends in West Michigan, where my family gets together to spend quality time at our cottage on Lake Michigan.
When not exploring the great outdoors, I also enjoy indoor activities such as painting, sewing, and putting together puzzles.
Apart from enjoying all things local, travel is also one of my passions. I’ve visited France, Italy, Turkey, the Philippines, and Cuba and love to learn about new cultures, people, and places.
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We’re so happy to have Molly join our Marathon County team. She understands our commitment to continuous learning, innovation, organizational culture, core values, and our overarching goal to make Marathon County the healthiest, safest, and most prosperous county in Wisconsin.
If you’d like to learn more about Marathon County’s Continuous Improvement or Leadership Development Programs — or if you want to meet Molly — I invite you to stop by the Marathon County Administration office.
Molly can also be reached at email@example.com.
Marathon County Deputy Administrator
Lance Leonhard began his career in Marathon County government in the Office of Corporation Counsel and currently serves as the Marathon County Deputy Administrator. Lance’s career in public service has spanned more than a decade, having worked for the federal government as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for the state of Wisconsin as an Assistant District Attorney. Outside of work, you’re likely to find Lance spending time with his family, traveling, teeing off on a local golf course, or sitting around a campfire with friends. Email Lance Leonhard.
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