Management Insights

You Won the Election. What Do You Do Now?

It's been said that there are two kinds of political candidates: those who run for office because they want to do something and those who run because they want to be something -- that is, the motivation is more about their egos than the community's needs. I've often seen a third type of candidate: those who run because they want to do something but don't figure out what they want to do or how to go about accomplishing it until it's too late.

Some examples of the third type: READ MORE

How Government Can Mine the Value of IT

Too many governments still are thinking too small about information technology, looking narrowly and downward at IT as "the problem." This diverts attention from how the use of technology can shape organizational strategies.

True, IT itself was the problem when it was expensive, hard to use, and could be applied only to high-volume, highly structured processes such accounting. And marketing hype created uncertainty: How could governments get objective information to realistically assess technology vendors' claims? How could governments keep an IT project from becoming a front-page failure? READ MORE

Public Leadership and the Gift of Time Well Spent

It's hard to overestimate the intrinsic value of sustained leadership. Sometimes its value hides in plain sight: We wonder why successive waves of leaders and approaches to public problems rarely achieve desired results, but we rarely stop to consider what any departed leadership team might have accomplished if it had remained for four or five more years.

In Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission on which I serve recently made an early decision to extend the contract of the district's superintendent for an additional five years. The average tenure of superintendents in urban school district is under four years. Why are we surprised that so little consistency and time for execution has yielded limited results? Extending our superintendent's contract gives the district a decade to double down on its intransigent problems of poor academic achievement, low graduation rates and disparities among neighborhoods. We have a plan we believe in and, despite deplorably inadequate resources, leadership that can make the most of what it has to work with. READ MORE

The Innovation the Grantmaking Process Needs

Challenge.gov, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this fall, is a federal website that showcases requests by government agencies for the public to tackle hard problems in exchange for cash prizes and other incentives. Since its inception in 2010, agencies have run more than 450 challenges to help ameliorate problems such as decreasing the "word gap" between children from high- and low-income families or increasing the speed at which salt water can be turned into fresh water for farming in developing economies.

Although traditional grants provide greater flexibility than a contract for the recipient to decide how, precisely, to use the funds to advance a particular goal, prize-backed challenges like those on Challenge.gov have the potential to reach more diverse experts. Challenges are just one example of innovations in the grantmaking process being tested in government, philanthropy and the private sector. These innovations in "open grantmaking" have the potential to yield more legitimate and more accountable processes than their closed-door antecedents. They also have the potential to produce more creative strategies for solving problems and, ultimately, more effective outcomes. READ MORE

What Citizens Can Teach Civil Servants About Open Government

An open government is one that is transparent, participatory and collaborative. But moving from traditional government operating behind closed doors to more open institutions, where civil servants work together with citizens to create policies and solve problems, demands new skills and sensibilities.

As more and more American public-sector leaders embrace the concept of openness as a positive force for governmental effectiveness, they would do well to look toward Brazil's largest city, where an unusual experiment was just launched: an effort to use a variation on crowdsourcing to retrain Sao Paulo's 150,000 civil servants. It's described as the world's largest open-government training program. READ MORE