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Pierluigi Oliverio, Planning Commissioner, City of San Jose

3 Interesting Learnings from the San Jose Planning Commission

california the public sector show Jan 14, 2023

Featuring Pierluigi Oliverio, Planning Commissioner, City of San José

Read time: 4 minutes.

Let’s jump into this week’s 3 Interesting Learnings from my conversation with Pierluigi Oliverio, Planning Commissioner, City of San José 


1. Planning for the Future Begins with Connection

Juggling a full-time job with full-time service to the City of San Jose isn’t easy. But it’s a privilege Pierluigi takes very seriously.

The Planning Commission is comprised of residents of the City of San Jose, appointed by the City Council. Planning recommendations are made to the City Council for decisions covering San Jose’s Capital Improvement Program, zoning, environmental impact, land use, and redevelopment plans for San Jose’s future physical development.

With service limited to two consecutive 4-year terms, Pierluigi, recently appointed as Chair of the Board, has a lot on top of his mind, and receiving real-time input from residents has proven integral to staying connected with those he has set out to serve:

"When I first started working in municipal government in 2007, I was shocked to find that there was no CRM software being utilized to manage the needs of constituents. I use CRM daily to enhance customer success and believe the same could be done for constituents. As I implemented CRM to enable responsive government for things such as potholes, street lights, graffiti, and overall constituent assistance, not only did we provide thousands of great constituent experiences, but we were able to measure the success by tracking data." [06:38]

Related: Technology Brings Accountability, Transparency, to Government

2. The Problem of Siloed Data


Data silos are separate databases or sets of data files. Because it is difficult to pull together these databases from across multiple agencies, departments are often left unable to get a 360-degree view. When the full value of that data is not up to date and accessible across agencies, project effectiveness is diminished with potential interruptions in service delivery from decisions based on incomplete or outdated data.

"When government entities use manual methods with static data, it is nearly impossible to answer questions in real-time. Waiting three months to know if a goal had been missed is problematic and costly. When a grant application deadline is missed cities and counties suffer from siloed data." [07:49]

Especially when considering the timeliness of grants and funding, it is easy to see how hindrances like data silos bottleneck workflows, leading to lengthier reporting and forecasting processes — costing valuable time that otherwise could be spent serving the communities’ real-time needs. Ensuring existing systems are integrated goes a long way toward optimizing performance.

3. Trust Boosts Accountability


Pierluigi believes in the power of setting expectations, and then trusting that you have the right people in place to follow through. When the Pandemic shut down offices, many agencies and companies noticed an uptick in accidental micromanagement. Some fell into the trappings of focusing on monitoring how team members logged their time throughout the workday. Others found that by creating a standard focused on outcomes and specific objectives that need to get done, teams were able to maintain or even improve efficiency, whether in the office or out.

"I think there was just a lack of trust that they'd get a full day's work out of somebody, and that unsupervised maybe they'd watch television or goof off or do something. But I think we found, at least in private sector, if you're not achieving what you're supposed to achieve, eventually you'll get terminated." [32:42]

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Senior fellow and director of the University of Pennsylvania's Chief Learning Office, Raghu Krishnamoorthy, takes this one step further by identifying a new dynamic arising in hybrid or remote environments- a term called “micro-understanding.” It is the concept that individuals want their management present with them, but not breathing over them. To put it another way, Krishnamoorthy describes it as: "Micro-understanding is about trusting, but making sure there are no unanticipated bumps; delegating, but being there to keep workers from stumbling, and being flexible, but always heeding the warning signs."

Article: What Great Remote Managers Do Differently

So clearly set team goals and expectations upfront, then create an environment that walks alongside team members so they feel known and a valued asset to the team. And trust they will not only get the work done but will reach out for help or offer help to others until the goal is reached.

You can catch Pierluigi's full episode below:

on a personal note:

The varsity basketball team won by 1 last night at home. We were up six points with 30 seconds left, when suddenly one of the refs started calling fouls on our team, evaporating that six point lead. We had a horrible shooting night, but when it counted most one of our guys, Justin, went to the free-throw line and made two in a row with 5 seconds left. We were up four. 

We made sure to not foul anyone on a three point play - and at the end Ventura shot a three that went in and thankfully no one fouled the shooter. We won by one.

Inspired Leadership Reminder: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose - but on nights when calls are not going your way how the team responds, regardless of the score, is what makes you a winner.

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Every Saturday morning, you'll get the weekly podcast recap and 3 Interesting Learnings from an episode