I’ve always found it a bit disheartening how far-removed some government departments seem to be from any semblance of performance-based accountability. I ask, “would these folks survive a day out in the real world if there was an ounce of competition?” Considering that I work for the government as well, I have to assume that others have evaluated my team or my performance in a similar way….
From time to time, there’s a new buzz-phrase or management model that examines how government can learn from the corporate world, but the results rarely last. At least in my small world, the silos, bureaucracy, and inefficiencies persist.
Yet, I do think there’s a lot of value in benchmarking against the industry. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Spurs competition. A challenge, whether from an internal or external source, can help motivate teams and improve efficiency.
2. Forces us to consider metrics. Many of the teams I’ve worked with have no meaningful method to evaluate success. In the corporate world, support elements like human resources and training departments are perceived as cost (as opposed to profit) centers. Having to justify budget and staffing on the basis of return on investment forces these business units to find ways to measure performance–for better or worse–to help leaders make tough decisions. Even if we have different expectations and processes for evaluating performance in the government, we can still use heuristics from the corporate sector as a guideline for performance improvement.
3. Prompts us to consider broader horizons. When we look outside our teams, departments, organizations, or even the government sector, we’re presented with different ways of doing business. Even if the private sector has unique structures and wildly divergent missions, there’s still often a lot we can learn about creative methods for collaborating and overcoming challenges.
On my team, we’re tapped into inter-departmental collaboration efforts, but we’re also turning to the private sector for guidance on the way ahead. We’re using industry reports to help inform our strategic posturing. We’re reviewing evaluation research to find new ways of measuring our eLearning solutions. And we’re connecting with other professionals in our fields via professional development opportunities.
Have you had any success benchmarking outside your organization or translating lessons learned into measurable success?