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5 Lessons Government Could Learn from Harry Potter

Capitol Hill is becoming even more magical next week as the Harry Potter comedy group “The Potted Potters” performs at The Shakespeare Theatre Company. Want to make your agency more magical? Here are some lessons from J.K. Rowling's characters:

Make magic with limited resources

“It our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” says Harry Potter’s headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Innovation does not necessarily come from the people with the most talent or the agencies with the most resources. Great ideas can also come from the people who make the right choices, especially the tough ones. Instead of focusing on what you have or don’t have to work with, focus on creating an environment that allows employees to choose productivity and innovation.

Don’t be afraid to identify the problem

Witches and wizards were so afraid of the villain Lord Voldemort they could not even say his name. Early on, Dumbledore taught Harry that saying Voldemort’s name was the first step to defeating him. If your agency is struggling with furloughs, budget freezes, cyber attacks, or other scary workplace issues it may seem easier to avoid mentioning the problem. However, if you name the problem specifically, your agency is one step closer to coming up with concrete and identifiable solutions.

Embrace diversity

Harry had leadership, Hermione had intelligence, and Ron had personality. It was only when they worked together that they could defeat the toughest challenges. The same is true for your agency. You must strive to recruit a diverse work force in background and skills to make your office the best it can be. In addition, it helps to use tools such as StrengthFinder to help employees know what they bring to the table. Here at GovLoop, we display our StrengthFinder results on our desks so staff can easily find an expert helper for any task.

Ensure personnel are not overextended

Voldermort split his soul into seven pieces to increase his power, yet it made him unstable and vulnerable. If personnel feel similarly spread thin, their work will reflect that. Voldemort felt that the only way to accomplish his critical tasks was to overextend himself, but it ultimately contributed to his downfall. Government agencies must prioritize and eliminate certain goals and tasks if they want to do an effective job, especially considering sequestration and budget cuts.

Seek out challenges

Every year, Harry Potter had to face a new threat from the world of evil and each challenge required collaboration, research, and drive. Harry never had the opportunity to grow complacent or set in his ways. Fortunately, government agencies do not have to deal with evil wizards trying to thwart their objectives. However, government will be more innovative, effective, and productive if agencies take risks. It might not always be the easy choice, but it is the right one.

What do you think? What can agencies do to create spellbinding innovation? Are there more lessons hidden in a Chamber of Secrets?

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