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FCW : June 15, 2016
The well-read CIO available technologies — a concept that sounds simple, but Eggers contends it would revolutionize the way the government conducts business. Delivering on digital also entails transitioning from waterfall to agile development processes. Eggers points to the modernization effort that Transport for London, one of the world’s largest transit agencies, undertook in 2015 as a possible model. Alistair Montgomery, a TFL manager, initially opposed any change in the status quo but admitted he became “a complete convert” to the agile methodology in two weeks. To enable skeptics like Montgomery to overcome concerns or misconceptions about technology, Eggers argues, nothing compares to seeing its efficacy firsthand. “Show, don’t tell,” as he puts it. He also tries to dispel the myth that technology can Some of your findings suggest that the government has locked in some serious worst practices — how agencies hire, how they review performance and layers upon layers upon layers of man- agement. Is it really that bad? Performance reviews are the really interesting one. Most people in busi- ness don’t realize that the annual review actually started in govern- ment. And the goals and ideals are noble. The idea that you need to give people feedback on their perfor- mance, help them improve and move up the pay scale — all those things are good. The challenge is that when it’s an annual thing, feedback is not hap- pening nearly as often as it needs to. And when it’s about labeling performance — saying you meet expectations or exceed them or whatever — what happens is that the annual review just turns into a negotiation, and you don’t actually get that useful feedback. So what a lot of companies are doing is just ditching the annual review and replacing it with a series of informal conversations. That informality and that frequency create much better conversations. They can be as short as 10 minutes, so long as they cover three areas: expectations, growth and develop- ment, and feedback. What about hiring? The federal process is notoriously drawn out — what are leading companies doing? Government’s not the only one that’s slow. Google was notorious for taking a very long time to hire. They’d finally make an offer and learn that the applicant had accept- ed a job with a competitor because it took so long. They’ve made a lot of course corrections in recent years and are doing what a lot of companies are doing, which is building their process around the assumption that the people who are going to work with that new hire should really have the most say in who that new hire is. And the bigger the organization, the easier this is to do because you can know that you want this person but not know what team they’re going to be on, and give them some time to go around and figure what team is the best fit. Your book also says we should get rid of the organizational chart. And government does org charts like nobody does org charts. So what does that mean in practice? Getting rid of the entire org chart is probably pretty risky. I’ve started advocating for what I call writing the org chart in pencil. You really have to be willing to update and change and erase it. Org charts are fine so long as your organization doesn’t change. The very first org chart ever drawn was for a railroad, which is the very definition of a business that doesn’t change. You lay your track and that’s it! But today’s companies are finding that a better unit of design is not the individual product or individual job but it’s the project. Even in government, things are changing faster than they were. And so the org chart needs to be able to change and mold and adapt to reflect that. It’s easy to pick on government, but there are places where it’s been the innovator. You talk about the benefits of salary transparency, for example. And for all the trou- bles in government, no one can claim that there’s secrecy about who’s getting paid what. Why is that important? Management: You’re doing it wrong In “Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual,” David Burkus makes the case that many widely accepted principles of business management don’t work. He sat down recent- ly with FCW’s Troy K. Schneider to discuss what government leaders can learn from his findings; here are excerpts of that interview. 16 June 15, 2016 FCW.COM 0615fcw_014-019.indd 16 5/25/16 3:26 PM
May 30, 2016
June 30, 2016