Management Insights

Why We Need to Rethink Public-Sector Retirement

A recent New York Times column made me recall a lesson I learned almost 40 years. "Their Jobs Keep Them Healthy" was the article's title, and its point was that delaying retirement can be good for "the brain and the body." Delaying retirement by key contributors is good for employers as well. Keeping employees with valuable job knowledge working in some capacity is at least a partial answer to the kind of staffing crisis that governments in particular face. And of course it reduces pension costs.

Early in my consulting career, I was asked to play a role in assessing the market for retirement counseling. We dug into the research and talked to several experts. That made me aware that professionals in legal and medical occupations -- who could presumably afford to retire -- often continue working and remain productive into their 80s. Today, of course, increasing numbers of workers in all occupations continue working on some basis or would like to do so after the "normal" retirement age of 65. READ MORE

What Government Can Learn From Business

The column I wrote in December on the "enduring myth" that government should be run like a business generated a lot of reaction -- more, in fact, than any in the five-plus years that I have written in this space. The level of response and the thoughtfulness of the rejoinders convinced me that the narrow perspective I had taken, and the limitations of an 800-word column format, almost demanded that I give it another try.

My main point in the prior column, expressed in the aftermath of the election of a president who had touted his business success as a qualification for leading the federal government, was to suggest that the experience of running a private-sector enterprise (perhaps especially a family business) does not translate directly to the challenges of leading a government. READ MORE

Before the Flood: the Value of Mitigation

Billion-dollar natural disasters are becoming the norm in the United States. Since 1980, catastrophes of this magnitude have affected all 50 states, hitting five to 10 times each year. Floods are the most frequent and expensive disasters; from 1980 to 2013, they caused more than $260 billion in damage. In 2016 alone, 36 of the federal government's 46 disaster declarations involved floods or hurricanes; four of them cost more than $1 billion each.

That's the price of cleaning up a flood after it happens. But much can be done to mitigate damage and reduce costs before the rain begins. Forward-thinking policymakers and local officials are doing just that. READ MORE

Sexual Wrongdoing in the Government Workplace: the Leadership Challenge

We've seen more than enough sexual assault and harassment cases that were ignored for years or even decades. The Catholic Church scandal. Penn State and, more recently, Baylor University. The National Football League. The military service academies and the Coast Guard. Some local-government fire and police agencies. And that's just a starter list.

At the National Park Service, complaints of sexual harassment and assault go back more than 20 years. In one survey, 75 percent of female park police said they had experienced sexual harassment on the job. READ MORE

How Smaller Communities Can Survive in an Age of Disruption

The dual and related disruptions of technology and globalization have for the most part been good news for business productivity and for the large cities and metro areas that are well positioned to take advantage of them. Cities like Houston, Los Angeles and New York can readily offer a diverse and skilled workforce along with communications and transportation for global connections.

But as so many of our smaller cities and metro regions have so painfully learned, these forces are distributing their benefits in ways that are bad for middle-income jobs. Local producers are threatened as never before by competitors from a distance, mobilizing a protectionist populism that endangers the future for all. READ MORE