If You Could Enhance One Thing About Your Organization, What Would It Be?

Home Forums Leadership and Management If You Could Enhance One Thing About Your Organization, What Would It Be?

This topic contains 54 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  James Wilfong 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #170392

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Times have changed in many government agencies. Budget challenges are forcing many organizations to do more with less and to prioritize investments, whether in capital, time, or other resources. However, many of the challenges agencies face are longstanding problems, further exacerbated by changing technology, social transformation, and the simple realization that the old way is not always the best way. However, the source of change ultimately lies in the hands of those who make decisions and who help influence them. So, if you could enhance one thing about your organization that you deem important – what would it be? Also, what value would this change bring to your organization in your opinion?

  • #170500

    James Wilfong
    Participant

    I would get rid of paper. Paper has a psychological hold on how we think. Paper ties us to a repeat, repeat, repeat mentality which is draining the budgets of State government. The healthcare industry has been mandated to replace all paper base records with electronic records. The Federal Government should follow with a similar proposal for State government and begin the trek to a mentality of reuse, reuse, reuse.

  • #170498

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    James – you make an interesting point! In the aggregate the cost savings implications would be huge!

  • #170496

    James Wilfong
    Participant

    The paper and storage costs are obvious. I’m suggesting that we look at the potential beyond. Electronic government data opens the door to Open Data followed up by the economic opportunity and impact of open data. But it starts with getting rid of paper. Crazy idea, impossible idea, think about a future government without paper.

  • #170494

    Jennifer Bledsoe
    Participant

    I would enhance the organizational synergy. Despite the difficult times we are facing, if the organization has this type cohesion it makes it A LOT more bearable. I believe it is possible to enhance/create this environment regardless of the functional silos/business lines.

  • #170492

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    “Synergy” is an interesting term. How would you go about achieving it and when would you know you’ve gotten there?

  • #170490

    Jennifer Bledsoe
    Participant

    GSA is composed of two separate services that don’t interact with each other very much. I believe if we created opportunities to expose our commonalities that synergy would exist. We just have to be creative! You would know that it has been reached by a shift in the culture. People would become and/or remain engaged despite the difficult time.

  • #170488

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Great! So, if I follow you:

    You’d create a way (or ways) for the silos to interact and you’d measure the change in culture as an indicator that the effort is successful. I think this could be very meaningful – from an organizational development perspective – especially if over time performance trends show that GSA is more effective at accomplishing its mission!

  • #170486

    Jennifer Bledsoe
    Participant

    Exactly! I believe it’s VERY possible!

  • #170484

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    My #1 pet peeve at my old agency was getting modern equipment – especially white collar workers who spend all the time in front of their computers and often travel with them – give them options and the best light fast laptops

  • #170482

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Can you elaborate on why you think this would be a good investment?

  • #170480

    Harris Sokoloff
    Participant

    Yes, VERY possible, and not easy. People are invested in protecting their “turf,” in framing challenges from their perspective (which excludes others).

    Still, there are a variety of perspectives and practices that can be used to engage people from separate silos to create more collaboration and synergy.

    The Fels Institute of Government just published a Promising Practices guide entitled “Building Common Ground” that concepts, perspectives and tools that can be adapted to this purpose. You can download it at http://www.fels.upenn.edu/public-engagement

  • #170478

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Harris – very good suggestion. Part of the dilemma that needs to be solved in this instance is: what tools would one use to create ongoing synergy in GSA? Assuming it all works, do we clearly understand “why” and in what instances will it work again?

  • #170476

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    I can sympathize with you on this one! I think that the answer is BYOD. Why should the government waste money trying to keep up with technology? Let employees use the newest technology to do their jobs. This will allow for more efficiencies and make them more effective. Invest some of the savings back to help reimburse employees for their expenses.

    Then, let them use their own office space too. Again, we waste a lot of resources on office buildings and rent.

  • #170474

    Terrence Hill
    Participant

    I would enhance my agency’s leadership. I would look for leaders who are inspirational, collaborative, innovative, and have a strong desire to serve their employees. How can we do this? Let employees evaluate their leaders and hold them accountable. Also, involve employees in selecting their leaders.

  • #170472

    Jo Youngblood
    Participant

    Career ladders. The old school notion of career ladders do not keep up with the younger generation that’s coming in. The career ladder assumes that you’ll do the same kind of job for the next 20-30 years of your employment and if you switch to another career track then you risk starting all over. However, educationally this generation is encouraged to be more interdisciplinary than any prior generation. Many of us have multiple majors or degrees in more than one field when we graduate. Also, most of us recognize that we will work longer than 30 years.. maybe even as long as 70 years. So, why on Earth would I want to be relegated to the same type of work for 50-70 years? And worse than that, why would I want to choose a place that’s going to penalize me for branching into something else when I complete a track? Surely there is a better way to provide bench marking, consistent pay scales, and consistent expectations of what has to happen next in order to advance.

  • #170470

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    James – I think you’re pointing to certain intangible values that are generated as a result of the new medium you’re proposing. In the healthcare industry, this is an emerging endeavor – particularly in hospitals. So the idea certainly has merit. Can you explain more about some specific intangible values you foresee in a “paperless government’?

  • #170468

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    LOL – I wonder how would a person’s leadership of his/her staff change if they knew their subordinate’s assessment was part of their review? Truly out-of-the-box!

  • #170466

    Harris Sokoloff
    Participant

    There ‘s an entire literature on “360 degree” evaluation that suggests it’s very powerful…

  • #170464

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Jo – like the way you put it, but what types of things would you suggest? If this points to the genesis of a new social demographic, how would you approach addressing this emerging issue?

  • #170462

    James Wilfong
    Participant

    Jo, I hear your pain. The notion of an employee logging hours and face time with managers is rapidly losing its relevance. This is a time of unprecedented innovation and younger workers are going it on their own. Talent is getting recruited out of high school. Look around you, if you’ve got unfilled positions then you have to ask yourself is there a young entrepreneur re-inventing what I’m doing? We are at a point in time that if you are thinking subordinate rather than partner or control rather than collaborate then you may find yourself standing alone in an obsolete job/dept/business/industry.

  • #170460

    Sonja Newcombe
    Participant

    Good morning, Mr. Don
    Great question, my organization is centralized, the Budget and Finance and HRM. I am currently working on the Budget and Finance side, Due to score cards, and Issues from the customers and field customers. Leadership decided to create a Contact Center, that is a buffer for Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payable, Incident Finance etc.. The contact center area handles calls for payments and financial research for the above mentioned departments. This area have two supervisors one at GS 12 and 13, and a Lead at GS 11 the worker bees 11. This department shouldn’t exist or need to be recreated if Washington leadership wants to monitor calls, a little top heavy the worker bees needs to be in the various departments to be effective. The Lead gets childish issues from the various departments. The worker bees get complaints from the field and external customers.1) why am I calling you? 2) Why can’t i call my coworkers 3) why do they have this number as there desk number 4) I am calling due to an issue created by A/R, why can’t they return calls?

    I know a majority of the various departments and the cases or calls could be handled quicker if the worker bees were working within the various departments. An unmentioned amount of overhead can be saved; the leadership can work in areas that are hunting for management. This seems too easy, I have created plans to take on more work for the areas that are shorthanded, but my direct leadership isn’t interested no vision for the future. Tax payers are paying for a buffer department, which handles 18 to 25 calls on average per person a day. This would save millions over time. Consoildation use our valuable resources…

  • #170458

    Jo Youngblood
    Participant

    Well for starters you at least need to be able to switch tracks without having to start all over. Sure, there’s a learning curve when you move from say an IT position to a Researcher position but if that Research position is on researching IT technologies… well you’re not exactly new to that field so you should be able to come in at least mid level based on your knowledge while being provided the base training to learn the research skills. You see this in PhD programs where someone may have a bachelors in business but then decides to do a masters in Engineering. They’re not rejected from the program for lack of background, but a few extra rudimentary engineering courses are added to their program so they can perform in engineering related work at least as well as their classmates. So that’s the first issue, is addressing a successful move from one track into another.

    the second issue is harder to resolve because it’s an issue of equity. Balancing the recognition of knowledge, skills and productivity to determine appropriate pay and some how creating transparency in that process to that people know what to expect. So perhaps it would be an index score inclusive of variables such as years of service to the current agency (because institutional knowledge should count!), years of employment overall (because where you were before should count!), annual performance review, productivity measure (if appropriate and available), and quality of work measure. Then some how that index should be applied against a particular employment sector like IT work. So you could then apply that index score to a particular pay rate and the result is a range of pay scales not specific to titles but specific to industry and performance? I hope that makes sense.

  • #170456

    James Wilfong
    Participant

    I speak from the point of view of state government and from that point of view, we (the state) are very good at collecting information. Stacking it, sorting it, and storing it in dark dry salt mines never to be seen again. We furiously collect data that are never to be used again… I’m sure there’s a medical term for that.

    I’m looking at a company like Narrative Science of Chicago (to which I have no affiliation), who is looking at documents as facts, figures, and symbols (a.k.a., data) and using that data in combination with computer algorithms to construct descriptions of events suitable for publishing. Looking at documents as facts, figures, and symbols is a psychological break from the constricted thinking of an 8.5×11 piece of paper as well as change in the value of the information. The value has changed because the facts and figures can be used by third parties in novel and unexpected ways to derive economic benefit.

    Mobile technologies are now at the point where the devices could easily do things like write a narrative of your family’s history in relation to a geographic point, a building, or piece of land. Evaluate who in a crowd supports causes important to you. Provide geographically referenced cultural information.

    Cultural economic development is blooming in the light of mobile technology. The Grand Rapids Art Prize is a good example of culture and mobile impact. The Prize uses an amazing combination of tourism, culture, and social networking coupled with real-time mobile voting to evaluate art installations spread across the city. The Prize generates seven million in tax revenues and another 15 million in economic impact for what is essentially a rural mid-western county with a great idea.

    Combining the depth of government data stores with mobile technology is a winner. We live in a time of undeniable innovation and an army of entrepreneurs are just waiting to leverage open data.

    In my opinion, the only thing in the way is the leftover effect of paper on how we think.

  • #170454

    Sonja Newcombe
    Participant

    You are joking right , please be joking. Waste …. u guys should be doing that eletronically….I believe the HRM regulation want a copy in the supervisor possesion, still can utilize the eletronic version.

  • #170452

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    At the simplest – good computers are super cheap these days. A fast good laptop is about $1k now.

    An average GS-11 makes around $40/hr (and about $60 in costs to govt in count costs to healthcare/etc)

    Over the course of a 2 year cycle all you need is to save about 25 hours of time to make it worth it. I wasted so much time w/ crappy/lame equipment in terms of waiting for it to boot, trying to fix problems, time to shut down & wait for updates. Also the impact on employee morale is huge – you feel like they care about you and value you

  • #170450

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    You make a good point. When the organization supply’s you with good tools to do your job, you definitely feel more like they care – at least I do!

  • #170448

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Jo – I see what you are saying. The first issue sounds more like a policy change, which should be simple, but often it’s not.

    I agree the second one is more involved, but the approach you’re suggesting is interesting. It’s possible one or more of the HR research and consulting firms may actually have developed something similar to what you are talking about, but it has yet to be introduced to the Federal environment. A word to the wise here is: there are also cultural and stakeholder issues tied to this latter suggestion. So, socializing the methodology and performing a pilot may be very important in this instance, as the management of it also seems to be key.

  • #170446

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Sonja – This sounds like something that will only fester over time. Can you share a little more about why the score cards and issues from the customers led to establishing a Contact Center? What problem(s) were they trying to solve?

  • #170444

    Don – Great discussion and you have been an excellent moderator!

  • #170442

    Jo Youngblood
    Participant

    Right… timing of implementation is critical. Perhaps when the “old guard” begins to retire out will be a prime time to consider such a paradigm shift. The other option would be to phase it in with only the new hires and allow current employees to “opt-in” to the program.

  • #170440

    Sonja Newcombe
    Participant

    If you can imagine a civil war, we reorganized due to failed audits. Reorganized removed some duties and now we have clean audits. The reorganization helps tremendously, the unforeseen flaw the required financial data from the processes that were removed, from the internal customers or field units. How were we going to service the customers now and ensure, they have the required information to complete their duties? Who will they contact and how can we guarantee that assistance. The answer Contact Center, worker at the centralized location weren’t answer questions in a timely manner. Negative synergy, is placing it mildly, so contact center is the buffer. They have access to financial data, processes and reports. I hope this gave u better picture.

  • #170438

    Marian Henderson
    Participant

    This is amazing out of the box thinking! I work at the State level where it’s difficult but not impossible to change tracks mid-career. I love the idea of gauging compensation and/or level of merit based on a combination of factors. Our current system of education, testing and current level of employment is old school in a bad way. We all complain about it but no one seems to have a better way to do things. I’ll be passing your ideas along for consideration.

  • #170436

    Julie Chase
    Participant

    Purchasing and Paper! I have been blessed with a forward thinking manager. We submit as many forms as we can electronically, (leave) and digitally sign. However our contracting and credit card offices are still swimming in a sea of paperwork.

  • #170434

    Sonja Newcombe
    Participant

    Good morning , can u image us paperless and efficient . Or processes would change and various departments wont be needed , we can actually save the taxpayers funds. I dont think departments want to change because of the required position changes. I believe its time for change , if we don’t create our change someone in washington will and it wont be pretty..

  • #170432

    Julie Chase
    Participant

    Not happening in DoD. With that said, I would not want any of Uncle Sam’s bloated security software on “my personal” device of any type. Our computers are slow enough as it is. A co worker of mine still uses dial up and he says his computer at home is faster and more reliable than the one at work. Anytime our contractor NMCI uploads a patch or security or whatever, our programs, yes, even our Office 2007, Adobe, etc., get all “wild child” on us. This can go on for days.

  • #170430

    Julie Chase
    Participant

    Sonja, we are working to get our budget office on board with electronic as well. And getting everyone with regard to purchasing “together” on the same page. Share Point for us, is a start. I would like to have a clean email box…however, when I purchase software or IT, I am filled up for months following and following up on the process. Just pull what you need from me off of Share Point, and be done with it. No…can’t do that, gotta have the paper!!! Gotta have a zillion approvals, justifications, and why you have to go outside the mandatory source….yadda yadda et al. I’m not building a rocket here, I just need supplies/equipment/technology in order to fulfill our mission. Position changes would require someone clicking a mouse…wow, hard stuff. You are correct, I don’t need folks in DC contracting to approve what we need…our local contracting office and budget office are doing a fine job….stop all this tier hierarchy mess, it is not necessary.

  • #170428

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Yes … it does. Thanks, Sonja, for the clarification.

  • #170426

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    LOL!

  • #170424

    TerriSAvila
    Participant

    Dispensing information on a supposed “need to know” basis contibutes to the silo effect in multi-divisional organizations like the State Dept. of Labor & Training (DLT). I would like to see the department become more open with sharing information about the forces that are affecting all DLT employees, but only discussed separately among a few high-level staff in each division.

  • #170422

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Terri – this is interesting. How would you handle the confidentiality issue?

  • #170420

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    +1 – the world is going paperless. Gov’t needs to follow the trend

  • #170418

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    I agree with your thoughts. It posses very intresting possibilities …

  • #170416

    TerriSAvila
    Participant

    Confidentiality? I’m not referring to the dissemination of truly confidential information. I believe that government agencies deem way too much information confidential in a weakly disguised attempt to control individuals by controlling information.

  • #170414

    James Wilfong
    Participant

    I’m not as gracious. I don’t believe the issue is about control. I find more often than not, the decision makers are not understanding or just don’t want to be bothered with process of what to protect and what to release… they press the easy button and share nothing.

  • #170412

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Ok … I follow you. It sounds to me that there would need to be a way to impose a more realistic, consistent, and standardized means of classifying documents. It also sounds to me that part of the key to creating a more cohesive organization within DLT, partially lies in the daily practice of sharing information between sub-organizations. The question is: how do we get to this new consistent method? What are the options you’d consider?

  • #170410

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Hi James – do you perceive of a way to potentially make pressing the “easy button” – still easy – but simutaneously make more realistic decisions on what is confidential and what is not?

  • #170408

    Jo Youngblood
    Participant

    And conflicting guidelines.. like HR confidentiality around payroll but then all our payroll is published in the local newspaper each year anyways and is available for view at the University library. You don’t even need an open records request to find that out.

  • #170406

    Whitney Jones
    Participant

    I would have training for all employees. All too often, employees are left to “fly by the seat of their pants” when taking on a new job related task or postion. All too often, these employees who want to be motivated and do a good job, are left with poor morale and loss of productivity.

  • #170404

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Interesting – Whitney. Does this relate more to “onboarding” new employees or to position or role changes for existing employees?

  • #170402

    Whitney Jones
    Participant

    It relates to more towards role changes for existing employees. New employees are carefully trained in their postion now since the organization had several that left due to lack of training.

  • #170400

    Harris Sokoloff
    Participant

    Don — sorry for the delayed response. My sense is that part of the challenge is that people typically look at this as a purely “technical” problem with a set of techniques that will “fix the problem.”

    The truth is that it’s an “adaptive problem” — meaning that lots of people have to adapt their behavior in non-technical ways. Thus, the tools that would make the most difference are those that are engage people in framing/reframing the issues and then developing richer approaches to those re-framed issues. What’s needed are not simply better “management” techniques, but richer leadership approaches.

    The tools in the monograph I sited earlier are clearly applicable here.

    Perhaps sadly, they are not simple techniques that create a quick fix.

  • #170398

    Don Duggins
    Participant

    Ok. So, this is more of a procedural issue. I see why you’d want to change it

  • #170396

    Sonja Newcombe
    Participant

    I was with an agency (state) that utilize the 360 degree it was great , the top leadership took the evaluation very seriously. If there was a real issue , the supervisors were given time to make changes and additional counseling was available. I haven’t seen it in any other agency. Maybe they aren’t ready to know the truth about , there work habits and how it affects employees. Government agencies need to start using this evaluation, it cause more accountability, integrity.

  • #170394

    April R Miller
    Participant

    ITA! That’s the program I’m having now.

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