Case Studies

Stephen Lieberman

Fire Chief / Executive Officer

  • Five Cities Fire Authority
  • 140 Traffic Way
  • Arroyo Grande, California. 93420

What is your motivation to involve VCEO?

In local government, it is a common practice to develop strategic plans "in house." With the support of my Board, we committed to using an outside firm to help us develop an objective strategic planning framework. After working with VCEO, I can confidently attest that we have a defensible and non-biased framework to work with.

What was the core issue you wanted to solve?

Our organization is only six years old, and is the result of a functional consolidation of three small fire departments into one. While the organization is providing a higher level of service to our communities, the original formation of the organization did not address long term needs; capital and apparatus replacement funding, technology master planning, and long term staffing needs. We were in need of a comprehensive five-year roadmap to guide us.

What results did you get from involving VCEO?

As I shared earlier, my intent was to engage an "outsider" to facilitate the process. What I did not anticipate was the value added services provided by VCEO - the Quad Strat Assessment was structured to allow the various workgroups to provide honest feedback on how they perceived the organization. Guy was masterful as a facilitator; providing the outsider role but keeping the process honest and on track by asking questions from the place of a layman, "I'm not in your business, so help me understand..." He kept the process on track and on-time.

What three specific experiences did you like most about your involvement?

1) Preplanning Process - Guy spent a lot of time with me ahead of the session to better understand our needs and offer suggestions.
2) Facilitation Style - Guy is very comfortable with the process, and did an excellent job of keeping our staff engaged. More importantly, he did an amazing job of keeping us on track. His questions were timely, strategic in application, and served to keep the process moving forward.
3) Follow-Up - VCEO offers a wide array of services, including follow-up coaching. While I did not opt for this service, I have received several emails from Guy asking how we are doing with the needed follow-up actions.

Why would you recommend VCEO?

I believe that over time, many of us become a bit too comfortable with our organization's needs and base forward looking planning on past history; which can either be a positive or negative. VCEO offers a dynamic that is new to the public sector; namely they work with both the business world and government. By saddling the more rapid dynamic of change that is an accepted practice in the private sector, government agencies will be pushed to potentially leave a "comfort zone" and really engage in tackling challenges and pursuing opportunities. VCEO provided an excellent level of service to the Five Cities Fire Authority, and I would recommend them without any hesitation.