Management Insights

The Rise of Customer-Centered Human Services

Everyone may be equal in the eyes of government, but that does not mean everyone is the same. One of the great weaknesses in human services over the past century is that they have operated with a mass-production, one-size-fits-all approach. In many circumstances, that is no longer necessary or appropriate.

This recognition is giving rise to a new wave of experimentation across human-services programs rooted in the premise that customized program design and delivery, based on a deeper understanding of the customers being served, will lead to better outcomes. READ MORE

Measuring the Impact of Public Innovation in the Wild

With complex, seemingly intractable problems such as inequality, climate change and affordable access to health care plaguing contemporary society, traditional institutions such as government agencies and nonprofit organizations often lack strategies for tackling them effectively and legitimately. For this reason, this year the MacArthur Foundation launched its Research Network on Opening Governance.

The Network, which I chair and which also is supported by Google.org, is what MacArthur calls a "research institution without walls." It brings together a dozen researchers across universities and disciplines, with an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials, to study new ways of addressing public problems using advances in science and technology. READ MORE

European-Style Federalism’s Lessons for America

Issues such as health care, climate change, education and abortion all have two things in common. In addition to political controversy, they all feature substantial policy differences among the states.

Diversity across states is, of course, nothing new. It has always been one of the enduring strengths of federalism. In recent years, however, widening differences in political cultures and policy priorities have emerged, leading to mounting conflicts in public policies originated among the states, from gay marriage to marijuana regulation. READ MORE

The Hard Work of Restoring Trust in Government

Americans are hungry for straight talk. Election season has brought a barrage of campaign ads, reminding the public that much of what they see and hear is misleading or worse. And sometimes politicians lean so much on the legality of their actions that they forget their common sense.

Virginia, a state that prides itself on good government, is still reeling from the conviction of former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife on 11 counts of corruption. The former governor defended his actions by saying it was perfectly legal in Virginia to accept lavish gifts. READ MORE

Cybersecurity: Why It’s Not Just About Technology

With cybersecurity breaches on the rise, one thing is clear: The current defenses of U.S. organizations -- both public and private -- do not rival the skill, persistence and prowess of those who seek to wreak havoc on our information-technology infrastructure and operations. What many organizations are doing in response to this growing and pervasive threat often stops with efforts to secure their systems through technology without a continued focus on building and sustaining a culture of deterrence and vigilance.

The problem with this approach is that attackers and their tools are always changing. While no one doubts the need to establish a systematic, technology-based way to protect against breaches, attention is rarely paid toward building a culture of security from the bottom up. For organizations that do, the results are easily quantifiable: According to a recent survey commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers, CS magazine, the Secret Service and Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute, organizations that conduct ongoing employee training and awareness programs see their financial impact from security breaches drop to an average of $168,000, a quarter of what those without such programs lose ($683,000). READ MORE