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Extreme Makeover – Government Management Edition

We’ve all seen those Extremem Makeover shows on TV, right? Well many management experts are suggesting that the government needs an extreme makeover of its own.

But Bill Bott, a contributor for Governing, says agency leaders should be cautious to jump on the latest management fad.

Bott told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the real problem with buying into new management trends is that managers start focusing on the process rather than the improvements themselves.

“Sometimes directors become more engaged with the how of management improvements over the why,” said Bott.

Bott’s take on Management Fads

  • Management fads like lean governments, pay for performance, results only work environments come around every few years. It’s important to take the universal truth from each fad, not latch onto the fad itself.
  • New leaders come in and they want to see government get better, so they try to implement changes. But by the time they get everybody trained and onboard its time for and administrative change.
  • Then a new director comes in and they think they wouldn’t be in office if a change didn’t need to be made. So they implement new management techniques.

What Should You Do?

  • Don’t name the fads, just concentrate on the work that needs to get done. Focus on the things that prevent you from doing your job and then work to change those things.
  • New managers should take the time to get a real understanding of the organization, give old managers the benefit of the doubt.
  • Managers should ask themselves does this style still make sense.
  • Avoid knee jerk reactions.
  • Train only a small group on new management styles. 6-8 people is all you need.
  • Don’t throw old ideas out.

“If we had a dollar for every 3-ring binder filled with great management ideas that are collecting dust on a shelf somewhere in government,” said Bott, “we could cut the deficit in half.”

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Profile Photo Candi Harrison

Hear, hear! As a former fed management analyst who survived Management By Objectives, Zero-Based Budgeting, Total Quality Management, Business Process Redesign, and more management gimmicks, I heartily agree with Bill Bott’s assessment. Government has a strong tendency to get so caught up in process that it loses sight of the goal. And the thing of is that good management is good management (and a lot of it is using good common sense). Great post.

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Profile Photo Samuel F Doucette

Great quote from another veteran of management fads: “I’ve been zero defected, total quality managed, micromanaged, one-minute managed, synergized, had my paradigms shifted, had my paradigms broken, and been told to decrease my habits to seven.” — CMSgt Gerard Gething, USAF (retired).

That said, I bet private industry (especially the large corporations) get wrapped around the axle regarding process vs results.

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