Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Extreme Government Makeover: What We Can Learn From The George Foreman Grill, Southwest Airlines and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Friday, May 1st, 2009

extreme_makeoverIf you are a loyal reader of this column, you probably noticed that I missed last month. I had planned on writing it from the comfort of my new home office. My homebuilder, however, had different plans.

Like many masochists in our society, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to build a house. This decision was made in August 2006 with an expected completion date of June of 2007 — which is when we sold our existing home. Those of you who have lived through this part of the American Dream can probably guess what happened next. June 2007 came and went, as did two apartments and numerous hotel nights. After four months of “just another two weeks,” our house was finally done in November 2007, a mere half-year off schedule.

So I thought I would use this column to vent about my builder — and to highlight some critical things that we can apply to improving government processes.

I don’t know how many of you have seen the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” (Yeah, guys, I don’t watch it either — my wife does. And it never makes me cry….) The premise of the show is to find families with uniquely dire circumstances who really need and deserve improvements to their homes. When the show first started, the crew would descend upon the home and make improvements and upgrades — maybe even an addition. Now that they have gained popularity, they basically show up, knock down the existing home and rebuild an entire new house on the same spot — IN SEVEN DAYS! (more…)

The WelcomeMat to Your Culture: Your Hiring Process May Be What’s Keeping Your Organization From Improving

Friday, May 1st, 2009

doormatLast month, I wrote about Buckminster Fuller’s trimtab analogy for organizational change. Essentially, you must identify trimtabs, those few vital changes that would break up the status quo, in order to change the direction of the culture of your organization. These trimtabs are not low-hanging fruit, but rather they are the key systems of your organization. Once you find them, form projects and fix them. At the end of the column, I promised I would share the one trimtab every organization should work on right away: the hiring process. There is no organizational process that I have seen that has a bigger impact on a culture than the hiring process.

I’ve had many frank discussions with executives in which they confess their absolute frustration with the slow, unresponsive, bureaucratic culture they are leading. As one manager said “We’ve thrown fish, we’ve moved cheese, none of it works”.  Despite their best efforts, the culture only seems to endure and perpetuate itself. I usually give the same reply: How is your hiring process? Think about it. What is the first experience a new employee will have with your agency?

One of my workshop participants, a recent hire to government, put it to me this way:

“I had to fill out ridiculously long forms; I couldn’t get hold of anybody to help me; I got notified of my interview a day before; was told the wrong place to go; had to take a test that reminded me of my drivers exam; and then I waited and waited and waited and called and waited some more. Finally I got the offer, showed up for work and goofed around for a month before I could get a phone, a desk and access to the computer system.”

What have we just told our new employees about how we do things around here? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. (Compounding this problem is the generation gap. Many of us grew up being told that if you wanted something, you had to wait for it. The TiVo Generation has a different perspective. When they start a new job, they want to hit the ground running.)

But that’s just the half of it. The unresponsive, cumbersome hiring process may create the wrong impression for new employees, but that pales in comparison to the cancerous effect it has on existing employees. (more…)