Building Towards a 21st century government with Alumnus Jim Schutz

Jim Schutz City Manager San Rafael, California
Jim Schutz, City Manager of San
Rafael, California

In order to meet constituent demands, today’s government agencies must be able to adapt quickly to changes in technology. That means moving away from conceptual frameworks, organizational models, and programs developed decades ago and instead focusing on understanding how digital technology can enhance operational and policy work. Jim Schutz, City Manager of San Rafael, California, has found that the key to success is uncovering the right questions to ask and rethinking strategic planning and operations from a digital perspective.

Digital Transformation in Government: Innovating Public Policy and Service fit my schedule and gave me new ways of thinking about my work,” said Jim. “Specifically, the work plan for a new city department that we created a few months before – the Department of Digital Service and Open Government, which serves as a peer and strategic partner to all city departments as we reimagine services and become a 21st century government.”

During the program, Jim found renewed inspiration for managing cybersecurity, privacy issues, and keeping his team focused on their agile vision. Additionally, the program material validated an organizational culture change effort, which Jim helped originate it 2015, called Together San Rafael. The goal of the city-wide effort is to improve service delivery and make San Rafael a great place to work by bringing together city employees to create, implement, and celebrate innovative solutions to organizational and community challenges.

​  Jim Schultz touring Public Safety Center with Mayor and Vice Mayor ​
Jim Schultz touring Public Safety Center
with Mayor and Vice Mayor

 “Together San Rafael’s guiding principles are very much in line with the Harvard teachings,” said Jim. “Including human-centered design, delivery-driven government, agile as opposed to waterfall project development, iteration, open data, tolerance for failure, and a Build-Measure-Learn philosophy.”

As a city manager, Jim has to make smart decisions about how he uses his time. Taking off from work to come to an executive education program initially seemed daunting; two 14-year old twins at home added to the challenge. According to Jim, the experience of attending the Digital Transformation in Government: Innovating Public Policy and Service executive program is one that was worth every minute.