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In the 2009 Enterprise Program Client Survey, the Enterprise Program overall quality rating scored a very respectable 85%. Of this percentage, 31% of Enterprise work "fully met expectations". The 2009 Employee Survey mirrored these results. Can we do more? When your work is rated "fully successful," are you satisfied?


Our goal in the Enterprise Program, with every project we take on, should be to exceed our client’s expectations. With budgets declining and Enterprise providing an easy, affordable solution for many units, offering services and products that exceed the client’s expectations not only strengthens the foundation of the Enterprise Program but also adds value, reliability, and instills continued trust in the Program.

So, the question is, how do we shift from "fully meeting expectations" to "exceeding expectations"?

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Good question, and I'm sure there are dozens of ways to answer it. One way to slice this would be to provide answers in two general categories:
-unit level quality improvements
-program level quality improvements

I trust that most enterprisers consider unit level quality improvements on a regular basis. I wonder how many people (other than the EPO) give any thought to program level quality improvements. I think the central value to increasing quality at the program level is enterprisers maintaining a high standard of program level awareness.

Here's why I think that is key. We have 300+ employees who are all busy doing a great job. Each day, as each enterpriser interacts with his/her clients, there are countless opportunities to build the client's general awareness about the broader program and the skills and attributes of other units. This is not to say I'm advocating that everyone become annoying promoters of other units, but rather than we all attempt to really understand the kinds of struggles and challenges facing our client units (beyond the scope of our present work order) and when it is valuable, offer the client information about other units.

Program level quality comes from being a vibrant network of professionals who understand each others skills and abilities so that we can a) provide referrals, b) cover for each other when needed, and c) quickly stand up matrixed project teams representing more than one unit in order to provide more comprehensive solutions for complex issues.

Being a vibrant network of professionals requires much more awareness of one another than we have now. I believe that the EPO, XOs, and their primary admin staff have the broadest program level awareness. I am not at all sure about the other 260+ employees. Does a GS-7 in TEAMS who is helping with Recreation Planing know that Independent Resources is working on a model for Sustainable Recreation and Tourism?

And I'm not convinced that "meetings management" and the challenges of getting face time with each other is really an adequate excuse for not raising program level awareness. I think most of us would prefer to build this kind of vibrant professional network for an hour or two each week from our desks than to incur more travel costs and more non-billable time.

I long for a day when all our work is arranged like a social networking site. One day I won't open my email box at all. Rather I'll go to my wall and see who has poked me. All in one page I'll see the streams of conversation from my top 5 projects. I'll see my schedule for the day, and if I want to I'll see the schedules for the people with whom I collaborate most. All my draft and final product files will be accessed right from this one page. Every action I take toward creating a product or providing a service will stream right through my wall and into a very easy to search archive. And here's where this fantasy of mine becomes relevant to the conversation at hand: My wall will be in a neighborhood along with other enterprisers. I'll "friend" the ones I know and I'll periodically peak in at their walls to see what is new in their world. I'll know that being part of a vibrant network of professionals is the ONLY way work gets done, and I'll invest 2-3 hours a week in exploring the neighborhood and connecting with other enterprisers. This exploration will probably be one of my favorite weekly tasks because each time I discover a new passionate person I'll feel charged up and inspired about the FS.

I know I'm not the only person dreaming about working this way. Look at how many feds have joined GovLoop. It is quite phenomenal. Our unit is not only employing these new methods in our own internal communications, but we are also working with clients to create Communities of Practices where NEPA practitioners, or Rec planners, for example, can collaborate. And we're collaborating with InRe and DV to help make these kinds of visions a reality in the agency, perhaps sooner than you might imagine.

Thanks for starting the conversation Bill! I look forward to seeing how many folks notice they have the opportunity to participate.
What an excellent view towards the future. May we get there one day soon! Two related thoughts: (1) Our client survey also showed, not surprisingly, the #1 way they heard about the program was word of mouth, from colleagues. Let's call it social networking in the style done for generations. I believe it is important for all in the program to internalize this because client relations, taking time to talk with folks and not just do an excellent job, is crucial, and, (2) In the near future we will finally have the "movie" of the systems dynamics work done by Boeing (Bob Wiebe and Dan Compton) posted. I think it'll be important to everyone in the program to view this and do so after reading the Enterprise Program framework document and the program's "history document". Taken together, these three will provide everyone in the program a much better grasp of where the program has been, how it functions, and how we can work together to make it even better in the coming years. It's not our entire story but a big chunk of it.
My "take" on "exceeding expectations" is much simpler; and, we are definitely in a society and time where we can exceed while/where others are failing - - Take care of our employees/customers! We can have all of the complicated, cutting edge, expensive processes and equipment, but unless employees/customers feel appreciated, supported, encouraged, and yes, taken care of, all else is for naught. Unless employees/customers feel they can go to someone who cares, who takes their thoughts and concerns seriously, who is eager to help, no matter who or what the organization is, all will begin to slide downhill. In any arena, unit, agency, or group, be it a private business, government business, club, school, church, home, etc., those having a "position" need to feel that they and their position are important, needed, and appreciated - AND, that they and their position are worth being cared for! Simply stated, I'm talking about all facets of customer service! And, never under-estimate the power of positive reinforcement!
Yoli demonstrates some really excellent systems thinking here. The very core of our success must remain that our employees are well cared for and supported. I do worry about the stress levels which accompany being high performance - as we most certainly are. Exhausted employees can't provide quality products or create relationships for networking.


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