Management Principles for Uncle Sam

 
 
By Faisal Hoque  |  Posted 2011-04-06
 
 
 

Along with millions of other Americans this past January 25th, I watched as President Obama delivered the 2011 State of the Union Address. A number of the themes he spoke about struck me as relevant and critical to the future of our country, including his following call to action: “We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.”

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President Obama later added: “We have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. ... In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.”

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Investment management, efficiency, reorganization and integration. The approach taken to deal with these initiatives can make the difference between the impact the President seeks to obtain and the potential failure if managed ineffectively.

Establishing a governance process is a major part of integration. In government organizations, that process begins by establishing effective feedback and review processes of the agency’s current state and its desired future state. A key element is the clear articulation of the criteria used to judge the success of each initiative.

Once an agency has decided on its course, it must communicate the expected outcomes to its internal and external stakeholders, monitoring the outcome of each decision using mission-focused metrics that measure success in terms suitable for both agency executives and oversight groups.

To do this effectively—and in a repeatable manner—agencies need practical, analytical capabilities that can:

• visually portray and assess an organization’s operating models and associated cost optimization;

• measure an organization’s governance and management structure as it relates to its service delivery and operations;

• move from current state to a higher value future state by following a road map;

• assess alternative scenarios and strategic options; and

• link the mission, execution process and technology automation through modeling scenarios.

The ultimate responsibility for all organizational initiatives and productivity resides squarely in the executive corner. Without executive buy-in and support, major strategic initiatives and many operational programs will stall or fail. However, executive endorsement isn’t enough to make programs work. Improvement requires the vigilance of management at all levels to ensure programs are carried out according to the organization’s needs and goals.

This requires active management involvement in articulating the mission’s strategic vision, establishing metrics for its deployment and operations, and providing oversight of risks and compliance management. These capabilities ensure that required decisions are identified, assigned and effectively executed at the executive, agency and program levels of government.

This won’t happen overnight. It will require time, effort and executive attention.

Faisal Hoque is the founder and CEO of BTM Corporation. A former senior executive at GE and other multi-nationals, Faisal has written five management books and established a nonprofit research think tank, The BTM Institute. His next book, The Power of Convergence, will be available in May 2011. © 2011 Faisal Hoque