Smart Management

Will American Voters Upend the Election Process?

This November's presidential election will go down as the most fiercely fought -- and downright cringe-worthy -- in recent history. Only one-third of Americans think either major-party candidate is "honest and trustworthy," according to a recent Fox News poll, while almost 60 percent say they're dissatisfied with the country's direction.

So it's worth noting, as the national contest's last days perhaps get even weirder and more disheartening, that some notable citizen-initiated efforts across the country are trying to change some of the most basic rules by which candidates run and are elected. READ MORE

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