Improving communications focus of Edmonds City Council June 7 retreat


The Edmonds City Council is holding a retreat on Friday, June 7 for councilmembers and city staff to discuss the topic of communications. The meeting — open to the public — will be in the third floor Brackett Room at City Hall starting at 9:30 a.m. and includes the following agenda, which was listed on the city website:



• To strengthen the foundation for constructive relationships
• To improve internal communications and identify what contributes to positive external

9:30 a.m. Icebreaker

10 a.m. Current state
• Overall themes
• Whole group brainstorm: What are unique circumstances and challenges you are
facing currently and during the rest of the year that can affect constructive internal communications?

10:20 a.m. Theme: Attributes of well-functioning groups particularly in a political setting
• Overview of attributes related to group interactions
• Overview of attributes related to policy-making
• Overview of positions vs interests
• Overview of adaptive challenges vs technical challenges
• Themes: What is currently working well

10:40 a.m. Break

10:55 a.m. Theme: Thriving Individuals and Government
• Reflection and discussion

11:45 a.m. Theme: Improving Internal Communications
• General themes for improvement from surveys
• Identification of 5-6 principles
• Discussion
• Personal commitments

12:30 p.m. Theme: Communication Protocols
• Overview of suggested guidelines for use of email, phone, social media, direct

12:45 p.m. Break for lunch

5 Replies to “Improving communications focus of Edmonds City Council June 7 retreat”

  1. Thanks to MEN for posting this notice. Without this notice it was nearly impossible to find out about this very important meeting. It was not posted on the council site until less than 7 days before the session. Council Retreats are often the most informative and eventful meeting of the year. Often they are well publicized, held in the early part of the year and include a wide range of discussion that lead to a prioritized list of work to be done during the year. Both last year and this year the retreats were held later in the year and did not create any prioritized work item for the year. No public input was allowed.

    For the Jan 20, 2017 retreat there are 17 pages of minutes detailing the discussions. For the June 9, 2018 retreat no minutes are posted. Minutes were taken for the 2019 Retreat.

    This year 7 out of 8 Directors and the City attorney were present. HR not present. 5 of 7 Council Members were also present. Nelson and Buckshnis not present.

    I have attended several of these retreats over the years and they are among the best of the year. It is always wonderful to see council and staff discuss issues openly and honestly with a good interchange of ideas. It helps restore the idea that good government can exist. Our community would be better if more citizens attended these retreats.


  2. I was there in the afternoon, no one else. It was interesting, lots of good topics. And, Darrol, they missed you!


  3. Susan, they are good sessions, wish others could attend. Had other PM commitments. Maybe you will be at the table for 2020 Retreat.


  4. My bet is they would be much different with a camera present. All could watch and they would couch their comments accordingly.

    Here are some items “boarded” during a discussion “-election changes dynamics in council meetings – more public visibility” “- many up for election” “competition for attention” “-partisan politics during election” “polarizing” voting my be impacted by election”

    In past retreats when ever they write something down I take a picture during the break. The items above are right from those pictures.

    My bet is in sessions like the retreat they talk. At regular meeting they often “grandstand” or try to one up each other.

    During one of the breaks I was approached by a council member who asked for my comments. I said in essence “council should have sessions like this in full public view discussing issues… first to define the problems they are trying to solve, who should be participants in the discussion, and find ways to gather all the inputs they can before deciding how to proceed.” To my surprise that council member later pointed toward me and said he had some “public input” and repeated some of my comments. Later in the session one Director mentioned the same thing.

    We can govern ourselves better if we follow some basic principle of problem solving with the follow steps.
    1. What is the problem we are trying to solve, not what is the agenda
    2. Identify who the stakeholder who should be at the decision table
    3.Identify Potential Solutions
    4. Evaluate cost/benefit of potential solutions or combination of solutions
    5. Identify ways to measure success
    6. Commit to a process of always trying to improve outcomes through monitoring and adjusting

    All to often our elected folks come with an agenda that may not be in the best interest of all. What government should do is Find ways to “Provide the best possible service and the lowest possible cost constant with sound financial management.” In my opinion, when we loose site of these key points to satisfy a political party or a special interest group we are not governing for the majority but for a few.

    These sessions move toward better government but when it is “lights, camera, action” good government plays a lesser role than agendas.


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