Better buying solutions and your weekend reads!

Welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week with Chris Dorobek… where each week, our goal is to find an issue — a person — an idea — then helped define the past 7-days… and we work to find an issue that will also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And, as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

A busy week here on the DorobekINSIDER:

  • We’ve all seen those Extreme Makeover shows on TV, right? Well many management experts are suggesting that the government needs an extreme makeover of its own. But Bill Bott, a contributor for Governing, says agency leaders should be cautious to jump on the latest management fad. He told us why.
  • Want to make your organization successful? Simple, employ strong and consistent leadership. But how do you actually do that? We got insights from the Partnership for Public Service. But here’s a hint,it takes integrity, commitment and competence.
  • Shane Morris played a crucial behind-the-scenes role for the State Department during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, ensuring that U.S. embassies were able to dispatch and receive critical classified documents and equipment to fully carry out their diplomatic missions. We’ll found out how she did it.
  • TextMyBus is the latest app from the fellows at Code for America. The app takes data from the Detroit Department of Transportation to create a text messaging app. We found out how open data made the app possible.

But our issue of the week: looks at making buying technology more streamlined and user centric.

“The technology world has gone from a pure custom development system to commercial off the shelf solutions to now some new flexible frameworks to get acquisition folks the tools they need to do their jobs well,” said Evan McDonnell.

McDonnell is a Vice President for Solutions at Appian. Appian has just released a new report on the federal IT landscape.

McDonnell told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program what the new landscape looks like.

“With off the shelf solutions acquisition folks believe they get what they need. That’s the theory at least. But in reality, what they find is that there are things that have been designed for the average customer that don’t work for government. Those changes can be very costly,” said McDonnell.

Cost Savings: “Technology based on a flexible work automatic platform make it easy to change and adapt to problems. The application applies logic that combines with a solution of pre-built functionalities give an agency a radically different starting point that is flexible and can evolves as their needs evolve.

Big Challenge: “One of the real challenges acquisition professionals have is when they go to buy a new system their mentality of thinking that the only real good options are commercial off the shelf solutions. So they come up with 300-400 long item checklists because they know the cost of changing it will be so high. Now we have a chance to flip that model on its head, because now the cost of changes is so low,” said McDonnell.

Customer Centric: “With the new model every customer has a megaphone, so you have to be on top of changes,” said McDonnell.

Weekend reads

  • 3 Ways To Kill Your Company’s Idea-Stifling Shame Culture: Fast Company says proposing ideas makes people feel vulnerable, so it’s in an innovator’s interest to create a culture that’s secure.“The problem is that innovative ideas often sound crazy and failure and learning are part of revolution. Evolution and incremental change is important and we need it, but we’re desperate for real revolution and that requires a different type of courage and creativity.” To reignite creativity, innovation, and learning, leaders must rehumanize work. This means understanding how scarcity–a feeling of never having enough–is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame.
  • The future workplace will need to evolve. Forbes says seeing the juxtaposition of the digitally enabled Microsoft Technology Center’s next to the analog (think 1960s Mad Men era) workplaces of today, I was alarmed by the amount work that needs to be done to accommodate a more social and mobile workforce. In this new workplace model, born of the social and mobile age, what are the best ways to meet the workplace challenges of the future? What do we see as the digital office of the future? How do we accommodate the unprecedented numbers of mobile devices entering the workforce? I often hear the office of today appears and functions much like it did fifty years ago. Conference rooms with tables, chairs and perhaps a whiteboard – office spaces or desks neatly lined up in long rows across an ever expansive landscape – basically a sea of inhumanity.And that space doesn’t align with the social business transformation taking place around the world. The workplace of tomorrow will need to adapt to the new more social and mobile environment, while remaining flexible to accommodate different situations. You can see an example of this at Microsoft’s Envisioning Center in Seattle and in some cases Pixar’s offices outside of Oakland.
  • And could you shut off your devices? One person tries. The Washington Post details how it went.

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