taking advantage of the latest and greatest market offerings. Also, traditional procurement models focus on acquisition only, rather than complete lifecycle acquisition and disposal strategies for major assets. Both models encourage reaction, rather than anticipation of customer and market changes.
Beyond this, the present relationship between the legislative and executive branches must also be revised to give the latter greater latitude to make decisions (as contrasted with all major decision-making being reserved for legislators, as is now most often the case). Why? Timeliness consistent with citizen needs and pace of technological change.
Most leading private-sector firms have evolved to leverage knowledge throughout the enterprise. They have created employee suggestion programs, self-directed work teams and independent management units with P & L accountability. Though all such innovations are not transferable to government, the point is that internal knowledge is being harvested to reposition and reinvent the enterprise. In these instances, innovation and creation comes from inside the organization, and is fostered by clear and consistent vision from the top. Rather than trying to lead the process, the equivalent of a lawmaking body -- the board -- serves as advisor to the suggested change inspired by this internal body of knowledge.
While most elected officials want to positively impact their constituents, pulling this off in an outdated structure that keeps legislators removed from the customer is impossible. Change inspired by internal enterprise knowledge can only be spurred by harnessing the intellect and energies of those responsible for "doing the work" instead of expecting them to mindlessly carry out the prescriptions of the elected body (legislature, parliament, Congress, city council or county board of supervisors) that is increasingly out of touch with citizen needs.
Bottom line: The greatest need and opportunity for reform in government lies in the legislature (with procurement and personnel to follow). In the private sector, executives have found it necessary to give up their power in order to transform their companies into the flexible, innovative, learning organizations that are required to survive in today's complex, competitive, global environment. Elected officials must follow suit if we are to restore citizen trust and confidence in government by "running it like a business."
Ian Temple is program director of GartnerGroup's Executive Program for Government
five years ago.
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