Management Insights

Public Policy and the Blame Game

"It may not be your fault, but it is your problem."

The first time I heard that phrase, I was 3,000 feet in the air, piloting a single-engine plane, with a hood wrapped around my head that blocked all view of the horizon and the ground. Beside me, the instructor watched as I struggled to scan the instrument panel and keep the plane within the instrument flight rules tolerance of 100 feet above or below the assigned altitude. READ MORE

The Wrong Lessons From a Voting Fiasco

For the 2016 presidential primary season, it was the classic and inevitable television "election moment": As the clock ticked past midnight, thousands of Maricopa County, Ariz., voters were still standing in line to cast ballots in Arizona's presidential primary.

Longtime County Recorder Helen Purcell soon became the logical "film-at-11" culprit, especially after she'd initially suggested, not implausibly, that nearly 20,000 non-party-affiliated voters who couldn't legally cast ballots in Arizona's closed presidential primary had clogged the lines by showing up anyway on March 22. READ MORE

The Growing Urgency of Government's Quest for Talent

There's a looming government workforce crisis, and it's not even on the radar screen for too many state and local elected officials. Human-resources managers, however, are well aware of the challenges of recruiting and retaining the qualified workers governments urgently need.

That concern is documented in the latest annual survey from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). For the second year in a row, members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives ranked recruiting and retaining qualified personnel as their most important workforce issue. READ MORE

Digital Government and the Virtues of Simplicity

Any mechanic knows that simple systems are harder to break. Digital thinkers apply that ethos to everything they do. It's a core value of every successful technology company: If the user is not happy, or is in any way slowed down or frustrated by the technology, then the whole business crumbles. So they try to design simple and intuitive experiences.

A new breed of digital innovators is hell-bent on bringing this ethos into the public sector. "Our government is addicted to complexity in a way that isn't serving us well," says Jen Pahlka, the CEO of Code for America, "and the complexity itself is actually the problem." READ MORE

The Loneliness of the Courageous Leader

Of all the things required to be a good leader in a community, here's the one that is least discussed: courage. One reason is that it sounds so wildly out of proportion. Courage is what soldiers and firefighters have; it's not something we normally expect of mayors, council members, city managers, business leaders and concerned citizens.

But shouldn't we? Courage is the mastery of fear in the service of something worthy. Physical courage in facing enemy fire or entering a burning building fits the definition. But so does social courage, which involves facing the disapproval of those we care about. This is the kind of courage that is important to communities. READ MORE