Citizens want performance. Citizens expect performance. Citizens expect real performance from public agencies. Citizens expect that public executives will produce real performance. But what are the strategies that the leadership team of a public agency can use to mobilize people to produce improved results? Driving Government Performance introduces a number of core principles and explicit strategies that public executives can adapt in a variety of complex circumstances to achieve specific performance improvements.
Relevance (or what are these principles and strategies are all about?)
Every public and nonprofit executive faces the challenge of producing results. But what results? What is a real result? And how? How can the leaders of a public or nonprofit agency improve significantly their organization's performance?
Driving Government Performance is designed to help public executives with a core set of leadership responsibilities.
- Choosing and producing results: How can public executives determine the results that they need to produce and develop effective strategies for delivering them?
- Seizing and creating opportunities: How can public executives recognize or shape events and attitudes to foster the desire and capability to improve performance?
- Measuring performance: How can public executives measure results and use such measures to learn how performance might be improved?
- Establishing targets:How can public executives use specific performance targets to be achieved by specific dates to mobilize people and resources to produce meaningful results and ratchet up organizational performance?
- Motivating individuals and energizing teams: How can public executives inspire people working in a variety of organizational arrangements, from bureaucracies to collaboratives, to pursue public purposes creatively?
- Capitalizing on success: How can public executives use their initial successes in producing results to create an environment for accomplishing even more?
Driving Government Performance is not about designing better policies. It is not about creating formulaic performance systems. It is not about copying some consultant’s best-practices template. Instead, it is about how the leaders of public and nonprofit agencies can, working within their existing, legal and policy mandates, adapt proven strategies to inspire people to produce results that citizens’ value.
Tacit Knowledge (or what will I actually learn?)
Knowledge about leadership and management can never be made explicit. It cannot be fully described in words and formulas (which is why most management books are so vacuous). It cannot be codified in an all-purpose algorithm that will improve the performance of all organizations, in all circumstances, at all times.
Rather, the human knowledge about the strategies that can improve the performance of public agencies is predominately tacit. Over their career, effective executives acquire tacit knowledge about how to get people, groups, and organizations to produce results. So do teams of people. Sometimes individuals develop their own, personal tacit knowledge; sometimes, however, this tacit knowledge resides within groups.
Driving Government Performance contributes to every individual participant’s tacit knowledge about performance leadership. But it also creates such knowledge for the entire group of fifty executives. Thus, when each of the participants return to their agencies, they face the challenge of not only teaching their staff the tacit knowledge that they have acquired but also the challenge of helping their leadership team to build its own collective tacit knowledge.
Learning (or where am I going to find this elusive tacit knowledge?)
During Driving Government Performance, such tacit knowledge evolves through the in-class discussion of the cases, during team meetings in the evening, and over dinner or coffee with participants and faculty. Every one of these conversations contributes to the tacit knowledge of everyone involved; and every participant in Driving Government Performance has an obligation — in this unique educational environment — to contribute to the learning of his or her colleagues. (For more information about how individuals develop their tacit knowledge during Driving Government Performance, click here to read faculty chair Bob Behn’s New Learning Script.)
Core Issues (or on what aspects of performance will these discussions focus?)
The tacit knowledge developed during Driving Government Performance consists of web of interrelationships among four core components of performance: results, strategy, motivation, and leadership:
Results: Public agencies and public executives are charged with producing results. Good intentions aren't good enough. Good decisions aren't good enough. Good analysis isn't good enough. Good systems and processes aren't good enough. Good planning isn’t good enough. Even good ethics isn't good enough. All of these, by contributing to results, can be helpful. The results, however, are what count.
Strategy: To improve performance, public executives need a strategy. They need to define — often to redefine — both the nature of that improved performance and the approach that the agency will take to achieve it. Strategy isn't just about means. It is also about ends. It is about what are the best means for achieving results, and about how rethinking both results and means might create consequences that citizens truly value.
Motivation: Improved performance doesn't just happen. People make it happen. But, again, these people don't just happen to make it happen. They need direction and motivation. They need leaders who can establish an agenda that focuses on results and can then convince individuals and teams to pursue these targets energetically and intelligently.
Leadership: Leadership is not personal charisma. Indeed, it is usually not even personal. What it takes to lead a public agency — what it takes to improve performance — is a leadership team. This group of top executives shares the responsibilities and tasks of leadership. They articulate a mission, establish performance targets, generate resources, motivate people and teams, reward success, foster new strategies, and create an environment in which every individual feels a personal responsibility for the agency's overall performance. The leadership team of any public agency gives employees, citizens, and stakeholders an opportunity to earn the satisfaction that comes from making a meaningful contribution to a significant accomplishment.
Teams(or what will I be doing every evening?)
To help participants develop and share their thinking about performance leadership, they will be divided in to six teams. Each evening, these teams will work on the next day’s cases. And on Thursday afternoon and evening, each team will apply the knowledge that they have acquired to a performance challenge facing one of its members.
Schedule(or how will the curriculum be organized?)
The curriculum of Driving Government Performance begins at 1:00 on Sunday and ends at 1:00 on Friday. The week is packed with case discussions, additional readings, team meetings, and — oh yes — an abundance of informal conversations. For more information about the activities for the week, click here to view a sample schedule of Driving Government Performance.