What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year? At GovLoop’s online training Wednesday, government executives reflected on the past 18 months and how their agencies have tackled mission success in different and surprising ways.
Take telework for instance. “I never tried to telework before the pandemic,” said Dorothy Aronson, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the National Science Foundation. She thought it was untenable given her role as a leader, having to communicate and collaborate with others. But after 18 months, she changed her mind.
“Now, I am addicted to telework,” Aronson said.
There were other sweeping changes that the panelists encountered these past months, such as the “data explosion” and increased virtual collaboration. They’re applying all the lessons they learned into 2022. Here’s what’s top of mind for the executives from Wednesday’s event.
- Dorothy Aronson, CIO, National Science Foundation
- Lisa Jammer, Director of People and Culture, Texas Department of Information Resources
- Lynn Schug, Deputy CIO for Enterprise Operations and Shared Services, Energy Department
- Kevin Tunks, National Technology Advisor, State and Local Government and Education (SLED), Red Hat
- Perryn Ashmore, Industry Executive Director, U.S. Federal Government Executive PMO, Oracle
“Processes and tools can be automated, but organizational culture cannot. We had to rethink strategies and implement innovative plans to keep employees connected to culture and mission, so they can in turn support the needs of the state and IT.
That meant driving our culture [in a way] that could touch them in a hybrid work environment. Making sure they had everything they needed to do their jobs. And most of all, showing a high level of empathy.
If I could say anything about the last 18 months, we really put our employees at the heart of what we do.” – Jammer
“The other thing that’s changed, especially in the pandemic, was the public’s consumption of data. I cannot overstate how important it is to get the data right, make sure it’s available, [and] make sure you’re abiding by the proper terms of the data use agreements. [There is] that thirst for information, especially around the pandemic.” – Ashmore
“We’re going through a data explosion period. It’s [an] incredible change. It’s almost like the pandemic has created an earthquake and there’s a whole new world to explore.” – Aronson
“In the environment I’m in with the Department of Energy, there are two main campuses. One is up in Maryland and one is in the District. … [The pandemic] has increased the collaboration between those two campuses, because now you don’t have to get on a shuttle bus or try to fire up a room. You put your headset on, and you turn on your camera, and now you’re collaborating with people you never really did before.” – Schug
“At the state and local level, government is local at the end of the day, where you interact with residents and citizens of a state, county or municipality. That’s where the real changes have been: How do we interact? … How do we service the populations we’re responsible for in new ways? In safe but new ways –in ways that look more like how these individuals deal with everything else in their life.
Those are the kinds of experiences we’re starting to figure out. We need to start designing tools and using capabilities that have change built into them at the start, … as opposed to point-fixed solutions we saw a lot of before the pandemic. I think that’s starting to change – designing change into your initial capabilities.” – Tunks
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