Government leaders today face a world in which the evolution of their organizations has led to a paradox: their organizations are best prepared for the world of yesterday, rather than the world before them now. The image of the government bureaucracy as a “machine” – formal, mechanical and inflexible – has dominated our perception of the government mindset. This view casts people as part of the process machinery in which their jobs and roles and rate of productivity are defined with ever more specificity. While such an approach to people management and organizational effectiveness has yielded important performance improvements across government agencies, today’s world is experiencing dramatic changes driven by unprecedented degrees of connectivity, radically different expectations, and an era of austerity sweeping across national, state and local governments. Every day, leaders of these organizations find themselves having to make difficult choices about how, when and where best to deploy limited resources and talent.
Enormous opportunity exists to “re-humanize” government to better unlock the vast store of untapped energy and talent in the people who will redefine government over the next decades. More than ever, the most successful and enduring government organizations will be those best suited to answer two fundamental questions: How do we fully engage our people to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow? And, how do we organize to create lasting value in a changing world?