How can you better leverage the resources of the private sector?

There is a misperception that government is broken. This may not actually tell the whole story – more than likely, the public now expects more than ever from its government, and loses confidence when we fail to meet the ever-changing bar. Government projects now span across agencies, and we are becoming more integrated into people’s lives than ever. Here are a few thoughts on how the government can better address these challenges by drawing on benefits from the private sector – after all, we do not exist in a vacuum!

  • Leverage informal partnerships. You may be able to create informal partnerships much easier than formal arrangements. Impactful innovation happens early in projects, and collaborating in an informal setting with motivated experts in the private sector can greatly improve outcome and buy-in.

  • Right-size your project. Though government projects can be massive, the companies you work with may not be. By ‘right-sizing’ the problem, you narrow the focus, and make the issue more addressable.

  • Limit your audience. Though government is democratic by design, consider limiting your audience when engaging the private sector. You don’t have to ensure the companies you engage with share your vision precisely, but it is important that they share the same goals. Sometimes, ‘open-to-all’ engagements cause everyone to spin their wheels changing the direction of an established initiative.
  • Share information. Before tackling a challenge, look for potential analogues at other agencies or within similarly sized organization in the private sector. Don’t be afraid to share your challenges and weaknesses as an organization where possible, and to create an open dialogue with organization that are eager to share lesson-learned.

  • Create easy on and off ramps to your department. By allowing people to join the private sector – with the possibility of returning to your office later – you keep your office fresh, and limit stagnation. Don’t discourage employees from being mobile. In the end, by encouraging people to take opportunities that may arise to them, you build your office’s network, and raise its profile.

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