NGG11 For Dummies: Day One (The CliffsNotes Version)

Today’s #1 Lesson

Getting Big Things Done: Answered by Aditya Kumar, Deputy Assistant to Vice President Joe Biden

Sometimes we are tasked with solving a problem, tackling a BHAG [see below], providing an answer, or managing a project that has never been attempted before.

I asked: “When faced with such a task, how do you mitigate the risk of getting the answer wrong?”

Aditya answered:

  • Remember that the name of the game is advisory. You have been asked to advise, to solve a problem, to achieve a goal. You are an advisor. It is ok to be wrong.
  • Do try to boil the ocean, but realize that the sea is large and actually achieving boiling the ocean will never happen (all at once). Work for small wins. Put the ocean in a pot and then you can boil it.
  • Be transparent – share what you have. If you don’t have the answer, or feel like you do not have the knowledge to make a judgment call; provide the world with the information that you do have and have the courage to walk away from making the judgment.
  • Put an idea on the wall and get started. If the theory doesn’t work…pivot and try to work towards one that does. You cannot let the fear of being wrong hold you back from accomplishing something.

Recommended Reads:

  • Extreme Government Makeover: Increasing our Capacity to Do More Good – Ken Miller (Leadership, Project management)
  • The Lost Art of a Great Speech – Richard Dowis (Public Speaking)
  • Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO (Customer service, HR)

Great Tools:

Great Websites for Inspiration

www.ideo.comThe idea that IDEO’s method is considered unscientific indicates something about its sudden and perhaps unexpected popularity in Washington. Amid pressure to reduce the cost and size of government, senior officials are looking to the private sector for guidance on how to do more with less. At the same time, the current administration’s bid to increase oversight of federal contractors suggests it is looking for alternatives to the methods of the ubiquitous Beltway Bandits—the contractors around Washington that secure a lion’s share of government work. IDEO’s “human-centered approach to innovation” embraces a less established method of problem solving than that of the techno-scientific cultures of the Beltway. Compared with the scientific method, design thinking is a disorderly process: designers make educated guesses, ask outside-the-box questions, and form hypotheses based on the understanding that new evidence will require (even invite) a rethink” (http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20110609/ideo-takes-on-the-government).

www.jimcollins.com “Greatness is not a function of circumstance” – Jim Collins

Visit the site to find out what BHAG is J

www.wired.com Permission to geek out. This is the geekier version of the Drudge Report…and well, it’s AWESOME.

Permission to get inspired granted.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Terrence (Terry) Hill

Helpful notes Candace. Thanks for sharing. Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness” is a great read. He presented at this year’s Society for Human Resource Management conference. If the government had managers like him, we could solve a lot of the issues in our workforce. He is an inspiring, modest leader who lives by Zappos’ 10 values. We need a culture like Zappos has created in our government agencies. Our goals should be to deliver happiness, whatever that means for our stakeholders.