What a pleasant surprise.

As I was driving South on Georgia Ave, NW DC, on January 24, 2022, look what pulled alongside me, traveling in the opposite direction.

It was a “new” truck from the DC Department of Public Works (DPW). Written on the side of the truck was the tagline for DPW – “The Preferred Choice.”

I developed that slogan.

My colleague, Cynthia O. Pace, and I were meeting with the then Interim Director of DPW, and we were making a pitch to him to undertake an organizational change initiative.

There was a big push for governments to outsource services at that time. The Interim Director was against that trend.

During our conversation, I asked him what his vision for DPW was. He said something to the effect that he wanted DPW to be the “Agency of Choice.”

I offered “The Preferred Choice.”

That tagline stuck, and it became the organizing theme for our work with DPW that spanned several years.

I finally got around to looking through my e-files. I located a November 2004 Draft of our concept.  I’m sharing it with you.

Wow! DPW has been using our “tagline” for 17+ years.

In that Draft, you’ll find how we operationalized the concept. We wrote:

As agencies go, there have been a lot of changes since 2004. No doubt, there have been other organizational development initiatives, as there should have been. Nonetheless, I felt good seeing that our tagline is still being used somewhere in DPW.

Furthermore, given all the challenges we’ve faced since COVID-19 struck, our operational definition of The Preferred Choice has a contemporary ring. It could be a guide for DPW or another organization.

Also, at the beginning of the Pandemic, I started using two terms regularly.

One is “gratitude.” Every day I express gratitude for the privilege I have that allowed me to “work from home,” among other things.

The second is “compassion.” Employees like those in DPW continued to show up to pick up the trash and deliver other services. We should never stop valuing their essential and heroic work.


DPW is my preferred choice.

One spin-off of The Preferred Choice Initiative was our Purpose, Trust & Personal Responsibility Initiative. Dr. Pace and I had identified that purpose, trust, and personal responsibility hold an organization together and enhance its performance in an ever-changing environment. 

When organizations have a shared purpose, employees experience broad trust among each other, and the organization attracts and retains personally responsible employees, leaders and employees can reduce internal organizational friction and enhance the ability of employees and the organization to adapt to an ever-present “new normal” and to thrive in that environment.

We’ve expanded on our concept of “trust” in our new book. Check it out. Making Trust Happen! How To Think And Talk About Trust & Experience And Create it.