Last Monday marked the inaugural Executive Committee Meeting under the new structure. From my perspective, I found it very useful, although, as always, the first run-through shows some areas for improvement.
Executive meetings have now been structured to be focused on more in-depth presentations from various departments, rather than merely running through the decision items for the actual council meeting. At this first meeting, we had five presentations, which is probably why the meeting ran rather long. It was also followed by an in camera session - I'm going to suggest to the city clerk that in future, that part of the meeting should be held first, rather than making the individuals involved wait until the end of the meeting.
As deputy mayor for the next few weeks, I chaired the entire meeting. Because the meeting is less structured, I found that as chair, one really has to keep on top of things, to avoid people going off on tangents. But it's nice to chair a less formal meeting - speakers still have to be recognized by the chair, but no longer have to stand when speaking. The less formal structure also seemed to be conducive to better information exchange.
Discussion on each topic kept fairly focused, and I can see that one of the benefits will be earlier heads-up of where departments are planning to go. This will give council earlier opportunity to shape the direction of where things go - better synchronization with administration, which should lead to better discussion of options at earlier stages, and better decisions in the long run.
The actual Council Meeting will now be chaired in its entirety by the mayor. In the past, the deputy mayor would chair part of the meeting, so the awkward changing of seats mid-meeting will now be avoided.
To outsiders, these changes may not seem significant. But I see major improvements, largely in the areas of more and better information exchange, and better use of everyone's time - both members of council and staff. I'm hoping that with continual refinement of the process, and as everyone gets more comfortable with the changes, that the improvements will be evident to everyone.
"Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable." - William Pollard