The rapidly changing workplace — and what it means for government – Plus the 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Back in July of 2013 the president released his management agenda, which focused on three main goals: finding new ways to deliver government services more quickly and conveniently; cutting duplicative and unnecessary programs; and expanding the numbers and type of government data sets provided online. It was a powerful agenda, but now, almost a year later, not much has been accomplished. What should be in civil service reform? We have insights from Tim McManus from the Partnership for Public Service.

But first: The rapidly changing workplace -- and what it means for government

On Monday at the Management of Change 2014 conference, sponsored by the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council, I get to moderate a series of discussions on the evolving nature of the workplace. The session has been billed as the “open, flexible government workshops.”

The guiding thought behind our series is that work is changing -- the cubicle has just turned 50, for example -- and in some ways it is a fundamental change. The collaborative work environment is now seen as the way to increase productivity and innovation. Concepts like telework and ‘bring-your-own-device’ are merely a starting point. There are many thought leaders who see this as a fundamental change in the way work is organized.

Author Frederic Laloux recently published a book titled Reinventing Organizations, which argues that the way we manage organizations seems increasingly out of date. “Government agencies and nonprofits have a noble purpose, but working for these entities often feels soulless and lifeless just the same,” he writes. “All these organizations suffer from power games played at the top and powerlessness at lower levels, from infighting and bureaucracy, from endless meetings and a seemingly never-ending succession of change and cost-cutting programs… We need more enlightened leaders, but we need something more: enlightened organizational structures and practices.”

And there are other books out there -- try Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, who previously wrote the book Rework: Change The Way You Work Forever.

There is also the concept of holacracy, which bills itself as “a real-world-tested social technology for purposeful organization.” Some have taken to calling the idea of holocracy a world without bosses -- one that would likely terrify CEOs (or government executives). Yet it is being used out there -- at companies like Zappos, for example.

In our sessions next week, we’ll discuss what all of this means for government. While few expect a traditional hierarchical government leadership organization any time soon, there is little doubt that the world is changing… and that will have an impact on government. (Honestly, how many of us expected there to be any discussion of BYOD in government -- or cloud, for that matter? Be honest.)

That being said, there are unique government challenges -- as was demonstrated by the Office of Personnel Management’s experiment with the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) that was later abandoned with “mixed results.”

Unfortunately there has been little discussion about what worked -- and what didn’t work -- in OPM’s ROWE pilot. (More about the OPM-ROWE pilot from the DorobekINSIDER interview on Federal News Radio.)  Credit to Federal Times reporter Stephen Losey, who used a FOIA request to get a OPM-Deloitte assessment of the ROWE project: Why you don’t have flex schedules: OPM’s failed 1-year experiment.

“OPM managers proved unable to hold poor performers accountable, work quality slumped in some cases, and employees had no idea if they were succeeding because they weren’t getting enough manager feedback,” Federal Times reported.

In our three sessions at MOC, we will be looking at how work is changing and evolving, empowered by technology… what that means for government today and in the years ahead.

Some background reading:

 

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Federal News Radio: Treasury Secretary brings rest of agency around on shared services - “The Treasury Department has done a 180 degree turn on the need for and benefits of an enterprise content management system. That wasn't the case three years ago when having an ECM system was a dirty word. No one at Treasury wanted to pay for it, and many thought it would fail.”

  2. Federal Times: DoD falls behind on audit goals - again - “Robert Hale said at a May 13 hearing that the department will not have all of its budget statements ready to be audited by the end of this fiscal year – a needed step toward passing a full audit. Instead, he said he hopes that about 80 percent or more of DoD’s budget statements are ready, but he stressed that the government shutdown, short-term continuing resolutions and repeated furloughs have hurt DoD efforts.”

  3. GovExec: Sallie Mae Fined $97 Million for Overcharging Military Members - “Student lender Sallie Mae and Navient, a former unit and now-separate corporation, have agreed to pay $97 million in fines in order to settle allegations that they overcharged military members on student loans. The Justice Department is requiring the companies to pay out $60 million to approximately 60,000 service members and $55,000 in civil penalties. In addition, the FDIC is requiring $30 in restitution and $6.6 million in civil penalties. In total, just over $97 million. The companies must also ‘request that all three major credit bureaus erase any related black marks from the service members’ credit histories.’”

  4. Washington Post: Don’t phish in our pond, TSP tells Pentagon - “One of the government’s smallest agencies has written to the largest to say, in effect, that if you want to go phishing, do it somewhere else. The Thrift Savings Plan has told the Pentagon it was “very dismayed” about an e-mail that an Army component sent to test cybersecurity awareness but that snowballed into widespread concern about the safety of investments in the 401(k)-style program for federal employees and military personnel.”

  5. NYT: Round 2 as Health Nominee Reappears Before Senators - “Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, where she is expected to face tougher questions but no more hostility than she encountered before a separate panel last week. The hearing will probably focus on the Affordable Care Act, as Democrats try to show its strengths and Republicans try to put the focus on its weaknesses. The health law, passed in 2010 without any Republican votes, has emerged as an issue in many of this year’s midterm elections.”

  6. Federal News Radio: Halvorsen named as acting DoD CIO - “Terry Halvorsen, the Department of the Navy's chief information officer, will take over as the Defense Department's acting CIO next week, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.”

  7. NextGov: Defense Plans to Replace 19-Year-Old Retiree Pay System - “The Defense Department has decided to retire its 19-year-old retiree pay system written in ‘antiquated’ computer code and replace it with a lower cost, easier to use application based on off-the-shelf technology.”

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