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The Public Manager Magazine Article

Spotlight: Dave Edinger

As the chief performance officer for the City of Denver, Dave Edinger’s main goal is to blast away roadblocks to bottom-up innovation. He heads up the City of Denver’s Peak Academy, which trains government employees on the principles of Lean methodology. 

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Thu Dec 10 2015

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Spotlight: Dave Edinger-4174447005be254aaa990bb59484aef654f9a49aadf9683f42bdbfb85de37d9f

As the chief performance officer for the City of Denver, Dave Edinger's main goal is to blast away roadblocks to bottom-up innovation. He heads up the City of Denver's Peak Academy, which trains government employees on the principles of Lean methodology. Not only does this training help employees make small, continuous improvements within their agencies; it also builds a culture across government in which front-line employees feel empowered to voice their ideas.

About Dave Edinger

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Dave Edinger is the chief performance officer for the city and county of Denver. He has held the position since 2011. Previously, he was special assistant to the mayor of Denver, focused on public safety.

How did your career lead to your current position as chief performance officer for the City of Denver?

I've had a lot of luck with the so-called "Costanza Opposite" approach. When it came time to sell my warehousing and logistics businesses, I looked for a new area to explore, and local government fell right in my lap. I had never considered it before. The work I did in pharmaceutical consulting also has played an important role. For instance, at the City of Denver, we now use the same methodology to size the police department that was developed for big pharma sales forces.

How did you develop the curriculum for the Peak Academy?

A few nice things about the Lean methodology: it's free, open source, and accessible to everyone in the workforce. It's not scary-sounding like Six Sigma. A true Lean practitioner will likely tell you what we're teaching isn't really Lean and, in a sense, they would be correct. But we've adapted it to become our language of innovation, and it continues to evolve with each class we teach. For example, we are working with the Behavioural Insights Team \[a United Kingdom–based social purpose company\] to formally introduce the "nudge" concept into our curriculum and continue, through behavioral economics, to better understand our customers.

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How can government employees in other parts of the country learn and apply the skills taught at the Peak Academy?

For starters, our entire curriculum is posted at the Peak Academy website, and it's free for the taking. We only ask that you return the favor by sharing new modules with us. We have trained people from more than 30 different organizations, including one private-sector company, and some of those trainees launch their own version of Peak Academy and share back with us. We do take Peak Academy on the road, but the simplest way to take part is to come to Denver for a week and earn a Denver Black Belt.

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