Smart Management

Introducing: How to Be a Better Mayor 101

How does a mayor learn to be effective? For many, it's on-the-job experience. After all, colleges don't offer courses called "How to Be a Mayor 101."

At least not until now.  READ MORE

The Customer-Experience Prescription for Government

Every election cycle brings an intensified round of speechifying, editorializing and, nowadays, tweeting about what's wrong with government. Is it too big? Or is it not doing enough? Are the policies wrong? Or the politicians? Is government out of touch?

The answer -- at least one answer -- is actually very simple. People are unhappy with government because it so often doesn't work well for them. They feel that too many of their interactions with government are hurting them more than helping them. READ MORE

What Empowered Public Employees Could Accomplish

Through all but the last years of the 20th century, management theorists relied on the metaphor of organizations as machines. The model, developed in the scientific-management era, emphasizes tightly defined jobs, centralized decision-making and onerous regulations. In hindsight, it's not surprising that that model was adopted by those working to improve government. It describes the classic bureaucracy. Out of that model came such "tools" as quality management, lean production and process-improvement methods such as Six Sigma.

These techniques have considerable value in a manufacturing environment, where speed, efficiency and waste minimization are important goals. But they implicitly assume that the current process or way of doing things is the best way. There is pressure to "keep doing what we're doing but do it better." READ MORE

Once Taboo, Government Employers Now Mix Work and Home

Two weeks ago, a speeding car slammed into the side of a Milwaukee Public Works utility truck, killing the car’s driver and passenger.

The public works employees who were in the truck escaped unharmed. But involvement in a fatal accident is traumatic. Immediately, the city's Employee Assistance Program swung into action with the structured approach it takes following such incidents.  READ MORE

What Happens When Privatization Doesn't Work Out

Privatization is one of the hottest topics in state and local government. Google the word and you come up with around 12 million entries. But for all the articles and academic reports on the best approaches to outsourcing government services, there’s also a surprising amount of activity around insourcing. 

These days, roughly the same percentage of services that are newly being contracted out are being brought back into the government fold, according to Mildred Warner, a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University. Her examination of data accumulated by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for the period from 2007 to 2012 showed that new outsourcing accounted for 11.1 percent of all services and new insourcing accounted for 10.4 percent of all services.  READ MORE