Interview with Dr. David Kolzow – President of Team Kolzow Inc.
Dr. David Kolzow is President of Team Kolzow Inc., which provides economic development consulting services. He recently served as the Chair of the Department of Economic Development & Planning at the University of Southern Mississippi for four years. He has close to 40 years of consulting experience in site selection, real estate development planning, and community economic development. His past clients include numerous communities, states, and some of the largest land developers in the nation.
My first contact with Dr. Kolzow is when I received an offer for a free copy of his new book. I immediately decided to reach out to him for an interview. Dr. Kolzow is the primary instructor for IEDC’s 2-day management course and conducted the first IEDC web seminar on outcome-based performance for economic development organizations. I love Dr. Kolzow’s focus on accountability and the practical advice he provides in his new book is certainly worth the time to read. I hope you find this interview informative and, as I have, decide to sign up to receive Dr. Kolzow’s book.
Your new book – Managing For excellence – Outcome-Based Performance for the Economic Development Organizations calls for renewed attention on the management capability and leadership skills of EDO Presidents. What was the impetus for picking this topic a focus in your book?
Over the past 40 years of working with economic development organizations as a site selector and as an economic development consultant, I learned that one of the key differences between those ED organizations that were successful and those that were not meeting stakeholder expectations often had more to do with how they were managed then the assets of the community they served. In recent years, I have conducted considerable research on the use of outcome-based management for achieving excellence, and more recently have seen the value of using the Balanced Scorecard approach to more effective organization strategic planning. As a result, I have integrated quality concepts and excellence into the entirety of my book, focusing on developing measurable outcomes and performance measures as a means of effective organizational management.
Outcome based performance is emphasized in the Total Quality model as a condition for success. What are the in-process and end-process outcomes you would recommend Boards think about holding EDO Presidents accountable for?
Because Boards and stakeholders of ED organizations will have expectations of what they hope to see accomplished by the economic development program, it is important to help them understand what is realistic and appropriate as outcomes for their organization. Often, the stated outcomes have to do with local or regional economic achievements, such as recruiting a certain number of companies or adding a certain number of new jobs, that is not directly in the control of the ED organization. Although it is important to analyze the local economic situation and identify desired targets to achieve, those targets should not be the stated outcomes for ED organization. The organizational outcomes should reflect its strategic plan, which should demonstrate clearly what the organization is attempting to achieve that is within its capability.
What are the biggest challenges you see in determining a valid ROI for investing in economic development organization activities? What is the EDO actually accountable for?
It would seem that most Boards and stakeholders are locked into goals in economic development that are based on old paradigms. For example, the pursuit of manufacturing jobs in an environment where advanced manufacturing is more concerned with increasing productivity through new applications of machinery, equipment, and technology than the hiring of a number of new workers. A careful assessment of current and future economic trends in light of the assets and liabilities of the region should help Board members and stakeholders better understand what they can and should expect for their economy. If the strategic plan of the ED organization is done correctly, it should be much clearer what the organization should be held accountable for.
Are there any best practice examples you are aware of that EDO Presidents and their Boards should use for benchmarking?
I have conducted a number of economic development “best practice” studies for states, regions, and communities, and I have come to the conclusion that we have no valid means for determining best practices in our profession. This is probably a controversial comment, but there is little consistency in how economic development progress is measured across the nation. Using job growth, or the growth in business investment, or other such parameters is akin to “shooting at everything that flies and claiming everything that falls.” Since we don’t operate on a profit basis, and stakeholder expectations are often unaligned with organizational realities, it is difficult to determine what is a “best practice” and what is merely a common practice among those organizations that “appear” to be successful. However, ED organizations can certainly learn a lot from each other and can benefit from the successful practices of other organizations.
You offer your book at no cost to readers and on a chapter at a time basis. What is your vision of the process you’d recommend for the EDO President or Board member reader to get the most value from the series?
I offered my management book at no cost because I wasn’t sure that the market would support the cost of publishing this book. However, I strongly feel that there is much within these pages that would be of benefit to the profession, and wanted to share what I have learned. I have placed a number of practical exercises in the book so that the staff, Board, and other stakeholders can be effectively engaged in working to improve the organization. The sequence of the chapters has a purpose, and, in my opinion, the material in the book can be shared with all of the relevant parties as appropriate to the organization. I would start with the first chapter and decide how to apply this material and the subsequent chapters to my organization.
If somebody wanted to receive your book, or talk to you about a speaking engagement, how would do they go about doing so?
I am in the process of selectively notifying ED practitioners about the book, and have an announcement in LinkedIn that has resulted in numerous requests for the book. If someone emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will email them the introductory chapter. If that chapter piques their interest and they want more, I will email the rest of the chapters as they become available over the next several months. The book is finished, but I will be reviewing each chapter one final time and converting it to a pdf. file in Microsoft Publisher. I can be reached at that same email address for speaking engagements or training sessions, as well as at my phone number of 615-972-4801.