Leading Your Team Around The Red Tape

Red tape, yes, government is accused of spewing it, but most of us know that government is more of a victim of red tape then a purveyor of it — ever heard the phrase, ‘That’s not how we do business’? or somebody tell you that you can’t do something because of some regulation. Yes, that’s red tape. So how do you cut through the red tape?

Tom Fox is the vice president of leadership and innovation at the Partnership for Public Service, and he told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER Program that there are ways to cut through the red tape.

Fox’s Ways to Cut Through the Red Tape

  • Work with your leaders and employees to pick the right problem.This is more art than science, but you’ll want to pick administrative or operational problems that will measurably improve your team’s productivity or satisfaction. One federal executive we’ve worked with actually put the question out to employees and his senior leadership team, then picked from among the problems they nominated.
  • Prepare a team to lead the process. Everyone’s busy, but you can appoint a small team of leaders and employees to work with you to prepare an agenda, facilitate the Work-Out session and ensure implementation. Depending on the size of your group, a team of six to 10 folks working part-time on this may be enough.
  • Just keep moving. Once you actually begin the process, the desire to spend more time on defining the problem or just venting naturally emerges. Resist the urge and just keep moving. If you receive the feedback that participants felt rushed, you probably did things just right.
  • Stay the course. Despite your very best efforts, you may find that implementation plans hit a few speed bumps along the way. Don’t throw up your hands and return to business as usual. Keep pushing forward even if it ends up exceeding your 90-day timeline.

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Carol Davison

It’s important to ensure that you have identfied the appropriate problem and provided the right solution. The appropriate problem may only be revealed as you move through your project. Performing to specificaiton is most important. Cost and timliness are less so. No one wants cheap, junk in a hurry.

Julie Chase

DoD is regulated to the hilt on everything. There are no work arounds, UNLESS…there is another regulation to take it’s place. This is the way business is done. We/Us worker bees at the bottom of the food chain, follow it. Procurement of anything in DoD is a red tape nightmare. IT is a horror. There is a regulation that states how this is to be done. So it is written, so let it be done. On a normal procurement over the micro threshold, it can take between 90-120 days to deliver the product. If you are lucky…slim chance..it will take less than 30. Procurements over the micro threshold involving IT, non-networked, software…..triple that time line and be sure to include the 30 day process of filling out paperwork, sole source documentation, justifications and 16 page novella known as a DADMS. There is no work around around this red tape. You basically learn to except it. <sigh>