If you are among the 8,000 government employees who are in the Senior Executive Service (SES), then you may want to consider these five key actions as the new administration gets going:
You can’t answer tough questions unless you are prepared. Get prepared by defining each operation as a team that produces a key line of outputs that causes an unambiguous outcome. Specify who leads that team. Define the operation’s specific team members (employees, contractors, cross-organizational staff), the operational expenses and any contracts plus their costs.
If you have an opportunity to make changes, plan on changing risk factors. List risks in your larger organizational-oversight context, the structure of your operations (workforce, communications, rules), the management design and the self-analyzing and self-improving capability (or lack of) in your culture. Knowing risk factors always gives you a position for recommending smart, targeted changes.
You may not have the best analyses, but you need to know what you will analyze if you have the chance, and why it would be useful. Logically, unadulterated data from the lowest level of operations is most valuable, especially if you can analyze it in terms of what factors cause which effects. In most cases, the means, scope and targeting of analyses are underdeveloped, but this is understandable, as conditions change (see risks).
Examples matter in every management discussion, and more so when you are the executive. You will need to define what a case of work looks like in your operations, and then provide examples of cases that illustrate risks, workflows and management that need analyses. These example cases are necessary for justifying a larger, organizational case for improving an operation’s capability to perform better or increase its value as an outcome.
As the executive, everyone is looking to you to set the bar for how rigorous you want your organization to be when it comes to tackling risks and organizing analyses. Rigor gets to the question of your willingness to routinely assess the cause-effects in operations, and make decisions about its changes. Reorganizing a process, making a performance dashboard, or training staff is not rigor, per se, as these can reinforce the status quo. Your rigor defines how thorough you and your staff will be in creating a better operation.
Dr. David Paschane is an organizational architect, specializing in increasing the value produced by large bureaucracies. He can be reached at David.Paschane@AplinPartners.com.