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Core Values and Concepts


These beliefs and behaviors are embedded in high-performing communities. They are the foundation of community performance excellence and the results-oriented framework that creates a basis for action, feedback, and sustainability.

  • Community systems perspective
  • Visionary community leadership
  • Resident- and customer-focused excellence
  • Valuing people
  • Community learning
  • Agility and resilience
  • Focus on success and innovation
  • Management by fact
  • Mutual societal responsibility
  • Ethics and transparency
  • Delivering value and results

Community Systems Perspective

A community systems perspective means viewing your community as more than just the sum of its individual parts. A community of excellence views itself as a unified whole, with the various sectors, community groups, resident groups, and stakeholders working together as a system. When your community takes a systems perspective, there is a shared focus on strategic directions and on residents and other customers.

Visionary Community Leadership

Your community’s formal and informal leaders should set a vision for the community, create a focus on residents and other customers, demonstrate clear and visible community values and ethics, and set high expectations for the people and groups in the community.

Resident- and Customer-Focused Excellence

Residents and other customers are the ultimate judges and beneficiaries of a high-performing community. Therefore, an excellent community has deep knowledge of their needs and priorities. Their engagement is based on your ongoing ability to serve their needs and build relationships with them.

Besides being customers, residents are also resources to be engaged in doing the work of the community and the community excellence group.

Valuing People

A successful community values all people who have a stake in the community, including residents, other customers, the people that do the community’s and the community excellence group’s work, and other people affected by the community’s actions.

Communities and their people benefit from a culture of inclusion, of valuing diversity, and of promoting equity. Inclusion refers to empowering participation in and a sense of belonging to the community. Valuing diversity refers to recognizing and capitalizing on the diverse backgrounds and characteristics, knowledge, skills, creativity, and motivation of people, organizations, and groups within the community. Promoting equity means ensuring that all people in your community can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Community Learning

In community learning, the community builds on current successful efforts by benchmarking the successful efforts of other community groups across the country. Community learning includes both continuous improvement of existing approaches and significant change or innovation, leading to new goals, approaches, and services. Community learning is about striving for excellence.

Agility and Resilience

Communities of excellence strive to act quickly, move nimbly, and achieve flexibility in operations. They identify and rapidly address challenges and opportunities while recognizing the importance of allowing all interested parties to contribute.

Community resilience is the ability of a community to prepare for anticipated hazards, adapt to changing conditions, and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions. Disruptive events are occurring more frequently, triggered by economic upheaval or stress, major weather or health events, social or societal demands, or innovative technologies. For a community to be resilient, it must cultivate the agility to anticipate opportunities and threats, adapt strategy to changing circumstances, and promote a culture of mutual trust.

Focus on Success and Innovation

Ensuring your community’s success now and in the future requires understanding the short- and longer- term factors that affect your community. Longer-term factors — how will this decision affect our children’s children? — are key criteria for decisions that affect the community. Recognizing the importance of helping grow the next generation of residents to assume formal and informal community leadership positions, communities of excellence place special emphasis on ensuring that all their children have equal opportunity and support to grow into productive, engaged community residents. The pursuit of community success requires the agility to modify plans, processes, and relationships whenever circumstances warrant.

A focus on success also includes a focus on innovation. Innovation means making meaningful change to improve your community’s health, educational status, economic vitality, quality of life, operational processes, and mode of operation, with the purpose of creating new value for residents, other customers, and stakeholders. Innovation requires a supportive environment, a process for identifying strategic opportunities, and the pursuit of opportunities that are intelligent risks.

Management by Fact

Management by fact requires you to measure and analyze your community’s performance on key indicators related to resident groups, community engagement, community processes, and information sharing. Key indicators should derive from your community’s needs and strategic objectives. Analysis of your community’s performance should support community alignment and decision making.

Mutual Societal Responsibility

Your community’s leaders should recognize the value of the businesses, organizations, and community groups that operate in a high-performing community. A community of excellence works to engage and align these groups’ efforts toward societal well-being to achieve maximum impact and mutual benefit for a community’s residents and the businesses, organizations, and groups based there. Community excellence group leaders should be role models for valuing and promoting the well-being of your community.

Ethics and Transparency

Community leaders should demonstrate ethical behavior and transparency in all community interactions. Formal and Informal leaders of your excellence group should be role models for the community’s ethical principles, deserving of trust by their community. Transparency is characterized by consistently candid and open communication by community leaders and by the sharing of clear and accurate information.

Delivering Value and Results

By delivering value to community groups, residents, and other customers, your community excellence group contributes to the improved health status, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life of your whole community. Your community’s performance results need to balance value for your key stakeholders. Thus, results need to include process results, resident and other customer results, people results, leadership results, and strategy results, all with the objective of improving your community’s performance in health status, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life.