Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Running Government at the Speed of Business

Memorial Day weekend is a time to take a moment to honor the great men and women that gave their lives for our great country. It also happens to be the weekend of the largest single-day sporting event in the world – the Indianapolis 500. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been going to the race with my family. It’s a day of fun, food, friends, and really fast cars. The fastest Indy cars qualify for the race at over 230 mph! To keep with the theme of speed – here’s a few observations on moving government at the speed of business.

What does it mean to run government at the speed of business?

We all know that government can be reactive. It can be slow, cumbersome, and aggravating. We use “government at the speed of business” to reference government needing to move faster. So what are those principles that private sector uses to run “fast?” Turns out, private sector can actually move as slow as government if it’s not careful. Here’s a couple takeaways on how to get your organization moving like an Indy 500 car.

1) Make Decisions Swiftly
Indecision will cripple your organization. The best book I’ve read on leadership, The Seven Decisions by Andy Andrews, puts it this way, “When faced with the opportunity to make a decision. I will make one. I understand that God did not put in me the ability to always make right decisions. He did, however, put in me the ability to make a decision and then make it right.”

You may not be religious, but the principle remains the same. When presented with an opportunity to make a decision, we must do it. Indecision can be worse than the wrong decision. Government and even businesses suffer from fear, forgetting we learn from failures (See Blog on Lessons in Failing Fast). They have meetings on top of meetings, create committees, and form governance bodies, to study a problem to death – sometimes for years. We will never have all of the facts. Sometimes we have to make tough calls. If you want to move faster, don’t get paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision.

2) There’s Not a Magic Button for Warp Speed
In the Indy 500, the cars are nearly identical. The cars that win races do so with hard-work, dedication, practice, and incremental adjustments. We all know these principles. It’s not new. However, we have to start practicing them in government. Just because something doesn’t catch on right away doesn’t mean it’s not the winning solution. This is very true in innovation. People like to argue over the best process, software, and program. The key is to be diligent and consistent. Take a moment to breath and stop switching strategies at the first hiccup.

This isn’t easy to do. Whether you want to win the Indy 500 or have success on your next project, it takes consistent dedication and hard-work. As busy people, we tend to look for corners to cut or an easy solution to save time. Unfortunately, there’s not a “magic” button.
On your next innovative project, don’t shy away from the tough times. Embrace them. Celebrate them because that’s a sign you’re moving in the right direction! You’re about to breakthrough at new speeds.

This blog represents opinions that are solely my own and do not reflect opinions or views of my employer.

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