Strategy for Your Agency, or Strategy for You

There are good guides to strategy for government agencies and other organizations, such as Mark Moore’s strategic triangle. But most public administrators have little influence over their employer’s strategy. What the individual public administrator can control, and what he can benefit from, is a personal strategy for obtaining his own professional objectives.

Your own professional objectives are probably a mix: you want to advance the public interest as you perceive it, you want income and benefits, job security, opportunity for advancement, interesting work, recognition, prestige, pleasant working conditions, good relations with coworkers, etc. In an ideal situation, your best strategy for pursuing your own objectives would be following the opportunities and incentives the organization presents. But in real organizations, just doing as you’re told is not a reliable strategy for individuals. (Rosemary O’Leary showed many examples of “guerrilla government” employees contravening their supervisors to do what they thought was right–sometimes successfully and sometimes not.)

I am proposing a framework for strategy for individual public administrators, taking Moore’s strategic triangle for organizations (legitimacy & support, operational capabilities, and public value) and adding a fourth point (individual’s objectives) to create a strategic square for individuals. I will present this framework at the ASPA National Capital Area Chapter forum on Strategic Planning in Public Administration, in Washington DC on November 28, 2012. Tickets are free, but space is limited. Information and tickets at

David S. Reed blogs at

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