• Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), City of Portland – CIP Process Enhancement

    Client: Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), City of Portland 

    Date: March, 2017 – August, 2017

    Site: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/


    The City of Portland, Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is responsible for stormwater management, wastewater collection & treatment, and a variety of other watershed and water quality protection programs.

    Foreseeing the pressures of aging infrastructure and growing capacity needs, the bureau director set a goal to double the value of Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) BES completes by the 2020-21 fiscal year. 

    For FY 2016-2017, the BES capital budget allocated $109.1 million to maintain, update, and expand its more than 2,300 miles of pipe, ninety-six wastewater pump stations, and two wastewater treatment plants. Doubling annual CIP completion was no trivial matter. 

    As part of this effort BES wanted to enhance its CIP process, a complex business operation through which the bureau identifies and delivers its capital improvement projects.


    Working in collaboration with a team of city stakeholders and our collogues at Delaris Technical Consulting, members of the Steaming Kettle team:

    • Facilitated fifteen meetings with over ninety BES subject matter experts to draft a first-everd map of the CIP Process as it was currently implemented
    • Using the as-implemented maps as a starting place, facilitated ten meetings with over one hundred and ten BES subject matter experts gathering suggested improvements for the CIP process 
    • Lead the analysis of the improvement data sent, helping the City to gain insight and perspective into how BES’s CIP process should evolve

    Key Accomplishments

    • Created the first ever detailed map of the BES capital improvement process
    • Involved over 20% of BES staff
    • Generated over 1,750 process improvement suggestions
    • Process improvement implementation is currently underway


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  • Lois D. Cohen Associates - Strategic Plan Development

    Client: Lois D. Cohen Associates


    With a track record of success in the sectors of public outreach and community engagement, Lois D. Cohen Associates wanted do more than maintain its pattern of slow growth. But what should they do? And even if they knew what to do, how could they do it with few available resources?


    Steaming Kettle supported Lois D. Cohen Associates by facilitating the group’s first-ever strategic plan. Three principles made the work successful:

    • Clarifying easy-to-conceive, easy-to-perform pre-planning work staff could undertake without facilitation
    • Facilitating a day-long learn-and-do strategic planning session
    • Ensuring the day ended with an actionable plan which, by construction, had the buy-in of the key stakeholders

    Key Accomplishments

    • Business Context: pre-session research and analysis gave Lois D. Cohen Associates a new awareness of their relationship to their competitive sphere and the larger business ecosystem.
    • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses: participants rapidly framed the staff capabilities, emphasizing some underused skills and knowledge whose importance grew in light of increased understanding of their business context. The business context also helped participants get clear about the capabilities they didn’t have that were in evidence in their competition.
    • External Opportunities and Threats: guided pre-session research increased Lois D. Cohen Associates knowledge of their business environment. New possibilities were evident as were new dangers.
    • Strategies: participants practiced generating strategies for a similarly complex but fictitious business, then turned their new skills to their own business. The key to generating solid strategies rapidly was to only generate ideas that exploited an external opportunity or that counteracted and external threat.
    • Plans: staff easily selected the most viable, right-sized strategies. Simple planning tools provided by Steaming Kettle let the participants create end-to-end plans for each plank in their new strategy. By day’s end they had date-specific schedules as well as clear roles and responsibilities within each strategy.
    • Repeatable Process: the experience was designed and facilitated for repeatability without the need for future facilitation. Lois D. Cohen Associates left the session with all the tools and instructions needed to sustain their strategic planning function.


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  • Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) – Strategic Plan Development & Modernization

    Client: Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) 

    Date: 2014-2017 

    Site: https://www.ocp.org


    Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) is a 100-year-old publisher of liturgical music and worship aides. Technology is revolutionizing the publishing business while demographics are rapidly changing the organization’s primary markets. OCP needed to change its approach while maintaining its core values in order to retain its place as the market leader in North America.


    Steaming Kettle has facilitated a new strategic planning approach, shifting OCP from a one-year planning process to a three-year strategic plan with much greater alignment and much less tension amongst stakeholders.

    Concurrently, Steaming Kettle has helped the organization manage its project portfolio more strategically with hands-on assistance in developing better project selection methods, resource allocation techniques, and executive-level project health reporting. 

    Steaming Kettle has also played a role in modernization of operations, by leading a series of workshops in design thinking and facilitating the development of data quality and system replacement projects.

    Key Accomplishments

    These efforts have helped OCP offer increasingly sophisticated digital products, develop strategies for new Hispanic markets, and OCP employees feel more confident in their work and their future.

    "Before Steaming Kettle, we used to spend a lot of time and effort doing the easy parts of strategic planning; now we spend less time and effort doing harder stuff."

    --Steve Goodrich, Director of Realization, Oregon Catholic Press


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