A Different Voice Serving the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

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Performance Improvement

Performance Improvement includes all things related to measuring the performance of a program or process.

Mission, Vision and Values – Where does the SWO Stand?

What is our government’s Mission? Where does the SWO want to be in 20 years? What are our Values?

I’ve looked at our Tribal website at http://www.swo-nsn.gov/ and I don’t see any mention of Mission, Vision or our Values.  This is part of our problem and dysfunction.

Without these definitions that steer the organization in a positive direction, all we have is chaos. You may think of Mission, Vision and Values as something only a business or corporation needs, but every organization – even tribal government – needs direction and a solid understanding of what we, the Oyate’s Tribal Members expect from our Leadership and employees.

Without a Vision, we have no direction and cannot set goals or create a strategic plan for the future. We have a Planning Department, but what is their purpose?  It’s not their fault because they have no direction.  Are we going to shoot for becoming a Premier Grocery Store Chain in South Dakota/the Upper Midwest – cool, let’s do it!  But, why did we buy Councilman Beaudreau’s property – fondly known as the Blue Stump Inn? How did that fit into our Mission, Vision and Values or overall Strategic Plan?

Mission, Vision & Values

The Mission, Vision and Values statements are the very core of an organization.  They define scope of the organization, inspire employees to future goals, and clearly state the values of how the organization does business.

  • The Mission Statement describes the reason and focus of the organization’s existence.  Have you ever wondered why you come to work?  Employees should know why their work is important to the organization.  In fact, every employee should know by heart the Mission of the place they work.
  • The Vision statement provides inspiration for future goals. Where are we going?  What will we look like in 20 years?
  • Values are a framework for how the organization will behave and describes the beliefs of the organizational culture.  The stated values of a charity or not-for-profit organization would have very different values than a corporation looking to maximize profits.




Potawatomi Business Development Corp has a neat paragraph that simply states “Our Mission”, but you can find all the elements of Mission, Vision and Values, and the statements are well-defined.  Here’s the paragraph broken down into the three components.

Mission:  To generate wealth and improve the quality of life for the Tribe by making strategic investments, acquisitions and prudent asset management decisions.

Vision:  Resources generated by PBDC and its holdings will help diversify the tribal economy that supports Forest County Potawatomi’s tribal government and helps improve the lives of tribal members… [by] building an economic engine that supports the Tribe for generations to come.

Values:  Trust – Support – Integrity – Mutual Respect


IMAGE CREDIT AND LINK: http://www.winnebagotribe.com/Diverse and talented Tribal workforce has helped to grow our capabilities and uphold our traditional values. They solve the most complex problems with a forward-thinking power.

As “Ho-Chunks” (Winnebago) working together nothing can prevent us from achieving our dreams and visions to once again be self-sufficient and economically self-reliant.

HONOR – TRADITION – PRIDE:  proud heritage, a unique culture, an illustrious history, a distinct language and beautiful music; these are the foundations upon which our lives as Ho-Chungra are based.

Looks like Mission, Vision, Values to me.

A Strong Foundation

These three statements are absolutely important to creating a solid organizational foundation within which to develop strategic plans, to create operational performance metrics and goals, and to creating a strong and positive culture. Without them, decisions have no clear direction, objectives, or goals, which means no future to aspire to, and no values to guide leadership and employees in their decision-making process. The organization needs these three statements to create short-term and long-term strategic plans, and the organizational culture is shaped significantly by these underlying principles.

Submit your ideas for Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate’s Mission, Vision, Values in the comments either here or on HOTOKECA’s Facebook page.  Be bold!  We can do whatever we want – truly.  We’re an innovative, talented Nation of people. Let’s go from “Blue Stump” to something more ethical and innovative that benefits all of the Oyate.


Performance Improvement



My background really focuses on performance improvement, which involves looking at a process, program or department and identifying key performance measures.  Those measures must be quantitative (as in numbers).  Those numbers/measures are then tracked for a period of time to determine where the program is at (baseline).  I then choose benchmarks – or goals to shoot for.  When a program can’t reach their goals, there is an underlying cause.  We then analyze the program, the policies, the environment and the people involved to determine why the goals can’t be reached and what can be done about it.


  • Identify key metrics (what we’re going to measure)
  • Measure our current performance (baseline)
  • Set goals (benchmarks)
  • Find out what is causing problems in reaching the benchmarks
  • Create solutions
  • Repeat

As you can see, it’s a cycle that’s repeated over and over again.  That’s why it’s often called “Continuous Quality Improvement”.  So how can we apply that to our Tribal Government?


Find out more at the following links:

Baldrige Performance Excellence – This is how I structure my Performance Improvement programs and activities.
Six Sigma Basics

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