Once implementation is underway
If you have followed many of the suggestions outlined above, you
should be in an excellent position to conduct routine monitoring and evaluation
efforts. Here are some thoughts on how to be more effective in your overseer
role once implementation is underway.
1. Don't get too involved, but get involved enough. The
two greatest problems with councillors in carrying out their overseer role are
over-involvement and under-involvement. Those of you who tend to get
over-involved begin to undermine the staff's authority and responsibilities for
implementation. Under involvement is often seen by staff as either disinterest,
non-support, or a license to stray from the mandates of the council initiative.
Both extremes of overseer behaviour can impede the implementation process.
2. Recognize the need for flexibility and inevitable
adjustments in that which is being implemented. It is virtually impossible
to envision every contingency that will visit the implementation of new policies
and programmes. Be prepared to help the implementing staff or organization
adjust to the emerging realities of operation.
3. Make room for the ambiguity that resides in the grey zones
between policy and administration. There is more interdependence between the
elected leadership and the administrative staff than either side likes to admit.
Try to be comfortable with the zone of ambiguous feelings, messages, and actions
that separate your respective territories. Negotiate the uncertainties that
threaten to slow or sidetrack your efforts to move projects and programmes
4. Decide how you're going to resolve differences between
clashing factions before they begin to clash. Conflict is inevitable with
new ventures and, as we said in the handbook on The Councillor as
Facilitator, a healthy sign that progress is being made and people are
thinking in alternative ways. Given its inevitability, plan on how you will
manage the conflict in your overseer role and help others manage it in your
5. Don't be afraid to say: "Enough is enough!" One of the
great failings of elected bodies is to do a lot of high-decibel moaning and
groaning when things go wrong, but then fail to take meaningful and decisive
action to fix it.
The overseer role can give the council leverage to ensure that
it gets what it thought it intended to get when it enacted policies and approved
the budget. Your efforts in this arena of engagement with the local-government
operations staff should provide assurance that your direction is being carried
out and that the implementation gap between your intentions and expectations
never grows beyond that which is reasonable and