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NARRATIVE: Organizational Culture 

The City of Murfreesboro is one of the fastest growing and most progressive cities in the State of 
Tennessee.  City leaders are meeting the challenges that growth brings and have endeavored to 
proactively manage this growth while incorporating the latest technology where appropriate into the 
various departments that serve the public. Adopting the motto, “Creating a Better Quality of Life”, the 
Mayor and City Council have embraced it as the mission of the city government.  In concert, the City 
Manager espoused a “Good to Great” initiative based on the Jim Collins book by the same name.  

Within the Water and Sewer Department (MWSD), this is evidenced by the early and effective adoption 
of the Effective Utility Management (EUM) model as a guiding set of principles (5 Keys to Success) and 
goals (10 Attributes).  As a supplier of products and services that are vital to life and foundational to our 
quality of life, MWSD recognizes and embraces the responsibility and role we play in sustaining our 
community and its environment; and take seriously the public trust we must gain and maintain. Every 
initiative, every action, every decision, and every dollar expended is evaluated through the EUM lens.  
Does the decision or action address, enhance, or achieve at least one of the following: Product Quality, 
Customer Satisfaction, Employee and Leadership Development, Operational Optimization, Community 
Sustainability, Financial Viability, Enterprise Resiliency, Infrastructure Strategy and Performance, Water 
Resource Sustainability, or Stakeholder Understanding and Support. 

To date, the EUM mindset has been instrumental in MWSD becoming:  

 

a learning organization where staff is encouraged and budget is allocated (300% increase) to 
develop the skills to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Staff attendance in professional 
development classes and conferences, visits to other plants, pursuing certifications, and 
research and study are growing. Zero cost internal training is on the rise with senior staff 
mentorships of new and less experienced staff along with Supervisor Training provided by our 
own City Human Resources, Legal, and Risk Management experts. 

 

more intentional in promoting from within and in external hiring practices. Hiring well is 
paramount and MWSD understands that every hire is potentially a million dollar decision which 
will impact decades to come. 

 

an organization that understands and embraces taking calculated risk. The willingness to make 
significant plant operational changes that have a reasonable probability of improving product 
quality, reducing cost, or enhancing enterprise resiliency etc. are possible because honest failure 
is not punished. It is understood that challenging projects will not always succeed, thus, if 
honest, good faith efforts are given all around; no time is wasted seeking to assign blame. 

 

a team, understanding that there is no need to claim ownership of ideas. Teams evaluate all 
ideas, select the best one, and commit to it. This process leads to the greatest likelihood of 
success, team victories to enjoy, and no one suffering failure alone. 

 

facilitators of partnerships with far reaching impact. Relationships have been established and 
enhanced with stakeholders from across the state including an extensive network of state 
regulators, industry experts, and university faculty. An example is our partnership with Middle 
Tennessee State University where a new degree offering in Water Resource Management was 
developed. MWSD participated in curriculum development and will provide internship 
opportunities for students pursuing this degree