Holiday Special: Culture with Dr. Keith Clinkscales of Palm Beach County

Holiday Special: Culture with Dr. Keith Clinkscales of Palm Beach County

Published By : Cydney McCollum December 6, 2022

Holiday Special: Culture with Dr. Keith Clinkscales of Palm Beach County


During Opex (World Annual Operational Excellence & Business Transformation Summit), Host Jimmy A. Hewitt Hewitt had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Keith A. Clinkscales, LSS BB, Author & Director of Strategic Planning & Performance Management of Palm Beach County. This episode is jam-packed with Dr. Clinkscales’s insight into culture in the context of process improvement and what culture really means. Along with hearing his favorite topics on culture, we also get to listen to his testimony on how he got to where he is today.

Dr. Keith Clinkscales, Author of “Your Attitude is Your Breakthrough”
📘 Purchase his book here: 

Watch Episode 18 interview now!

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Guest: Dr. Keith Clinkscales, Author & Director of Strategic Planning & Performance Management, Palm Beach County

Process excellence professional

Author of ” Your Attitude is your Breakthrough”



Boston University

College of Engineering

Graduated 1984

Electrical Engineering



Dr. Keith Clinkscales, Author of “Your Attitude is Your Breakthrough”
📘 Purchase his book here: 

First Job: Digital Equipment Corporation (“Digital”)

Second to IBM in personal computers

Taught Keith total quality management

Hired as a quality engineer

External Product Group:

  • Keith was responsible for traveling to all the vendors, looking at their processes, and qualifying them to provide products to Digital
  • Made sure what they provided was of high quality
  • In order to do that, Keith needed to understand their processes
  • Learned process improvement, how executives think, executive sponsorship, etc. at an early age, total quality management, problem-solving tools, inventory management, process excellence
  • Spent a week at each site, walked through the entire process, asked questions, focused on their quality, etc.
  • Gained appreciation for process
  • 8-year career at Digital, from an entry level engineer to a principal quality engineer
Second Job: Management Consulting Firm
  • Previously called Pittiglio, Rabin, Todd, & McGrath (PRTM), later acquired by PwC
  • Got a call to be an engineer who helps solve business problems
  • Worked as a consultant to go to clients, map out processes, and consult on improvements
  • Worked in the chemical industry, computer industry, telecommunications industry, pharmaceutical industry, and medical device industry
  • Became an Operational Excellence Consultant
  • 8-year career at PRTM
Third Job: PA Consulting

Called to be a partner and copartner the life sciences operational excellence practice

Peer consultant for 2 years

09/11/2011 changed the company’s health and entire consulting industry due to travel disruptions

Fourth Job: Moved from MA to FL following 9/11/2001

Industries Keith had experience in were not in Florida

Process improvement and operational excellence was not prominent in Florida

Ended up in Office Depot headquarters in Boca Raton, FL

Used his previous experience with quality engineering, suppliers, and procurement

Became the Senior Procurement Manager

2008 recession came and Office Depot began laying people off

Interim Jobs:
  • During the recession, Keith worked countless hourly jobs
    • Went from $200,000 salary before the recession to $11 an hour jobs
  • Was a security guard for AlliedBarton
    • Got his security license
  • Palm Tran: Became a transit dispatcher for Palm Beach County (“Palm Tran”)
    • Started temporary for 3 months
    • Was hired full time
    • Work same shirt, tie, cuff links, and suspenders as every other job he worked previously
    • Met the CEO of Palm Tran, Keith told him his background, and asked to keep him in mind for job openings
    • Palm Tran was then audited and cited for their performance measures
      • Slightly off on the performance metrics they were releasing to the public
      • Became public information
      • Told to create a Performance Management Office that would hold them accountable and establish performance metrics of high integrity

Job requisition was released to run the new office, and Keith applied

He had a phone screening and then got an email Friday for an interview Tuesday

For the interview, Keith was tasked with creating a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation to explain how he would develop and create a Performance Management Office

He performed extensive research and created a plan to present

Keith’s was offered the position

  • The ideas in the interview presentation are nearly identical to the current structure at Palm Tran
  • Created 9 teams (Safety, Customer Service Satisfaction, Paratransit, Fixed Route, On-time delivery, Ridership, Marketing, etc.)
  • Suggested current employees for the effort
  • Only recommended hiring 1-2 analysts and utilizing
  • Formed cross department teams
Transition to current role:

Palm Tran is one of 35 departments that make up Palm Beach County

650 employees at Palm Tran

Cross department teams presented every 3 months to Palm Tran

Invited the county executives

County Administrator for all 35 departments saw the problem solving, benchmarking, and success of the Palm Tran Performance Management Office and wanted to implement it for the entire county

Director of Palm Beach County Strategic Planning and Performance Management job posting was released soon after

Keith applied for the job and was chosen

Strategic Planning and Performance Management:

Current job: Director of Strategic Planning and Performance Management for Palm Beach County

  • 35 departments
  • 7,000 employees
  • Did one-on-ones with every department for the entire first month

Performed SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses with every department

Sometimes it was just the department head and sometimes it was the entire staff, depending on department

Listened and communicated. Wrote everything down

Once finished, Keith put all the strengths together, weaknesses together, opportunities together, and threats together from every single department

  • Asked departments their priorities and what they are doing to work toward them
  • Spoke about resources
  • Found common denominators
    • Departments work well vertically, but are too siloed
    • Departments do not know what is happening in any departments other than their own
    • No collaboration
  • Presented recommendation to 7 county commissioners in a strategic workshop
    • All the department heads in attendance
    • Recommended breaking down the silos and tying departments to strategic priorities
    • Walked through all the strategic priorities
    • Aligned cross functional and cross departmental teams to strategies
    • Departments sat down together
    • A lot of teaching, training, learning happened
    • Identified areas where teams can take over for one another and vice versa
      • Certain departments own tasks that should belong to others or require collaboration between departments
      • Small Example: Officer Community Revitalization department runs a Backpack Program for back-to-school instead of the Community Services Department
  • Team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing (FSNP)


  • Teams and departments began to collaborate on tasks and projects
  • Departments won awards for their work
  • Culture of communication formed throughout Palm Beach County
  • Cross functional teams get to present to the Board of County Commissioners every November
Key Ideas and Quotes from Episode: advice from Dr. Keith and Jimmy Hewitt

“If you can define it as a process, you can improve it…A process you can measure and I always say you manage what you measure, you measure what you manage.”

“When you are passionate about what you do, people seek you out.”

“Do the research. Do the SWOT analysis. Find the strategies, align the teams, get the teams together, get the teams talking.”


 “Communication breaks down silos.”

Cross functional teams

“Relationships before issues. Build the relationship with someone before you just walk in their office and start trying to solve the problem or address an issue…You can’t just jump to solutions.”

“Let’s form cross functional teams. Let’s keep talking or let’s start talking. Let’s keep getting to know each other and how things go, and we might find that we’re doing the same thing, or our peers are doing something better.”

“Win together.”



Automation: “Come in after we have laid the groundwork, worked as a team, streamlined, created a new process, and now we are ready for “Bots and Thoughts” (Automation). Automate that; because what you don’t want to do is automate something that you’re doing wrong.”

“Align your teams and improve your process before you automate it.”




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