The November elections are quickly approaching, and no matter who wins, the next term means a whole new crop of political appointees will be joining government.
The challenges facing those appointees are vast — especially in the first two years.
Paul Lawrence is a Principal at Ernst and Young. In his new book, Paths to Making a Difference, Lawrence sat down with 24 top political executives for three extended interviews. The goal was simple — he wanted to track their learning curves and chronicle their lessons learned.
He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER what intrigued him about this project.
Lawrence Lessons for Success:
- Accept the right job — “You can’t be a policy person in an operations role.”
- Make sure you know your job description — “Sit down and describe the job expectations and what you AREN’T going to do.”
- Find the few things that matter — “Often times people want to accomplish too much, you need to be careful of the urgents.”
5 Categories of Political Appointees:
- Producers - people who process information (Patent and Trademark Office etc.)
- Infostructors – people who both deal with infostructure issues but don’t actually build the product (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/NTSB)
- Regulators — people who enforce the rules (Securities and Exchange Commission/Nuclear Regulatory Commission)
- Scientists – people who have a deep understanding of both the science and the political machine (National Institute of Standards and Technology/ Department of the Interior)
- Collaborators — people who have no direct authority over the people they influence, their job is to steer policies in a suggested direction (Office of Personnel Management)
Key Quotes from Lawrence:
- “At this level everybody’s smart, the difference between a successful political appointee and an unsuccessful one is experience. How well can they work in the policial machine.”
- One of the main takeaways from the 24 political appointees profiled, “The more they worked with the career feds the more they liked them and appreciated their work.”