Activity Versus Productivity: The Need For Governmental Priorities
During his campaign, President Obama repeatedly promised to streamline the federal government, reduce waste and make government more effective.
Yet it seems that everything this administration does violates basic management principles that have been firmly established over the past 75 years. Busy-ness masquerades as productivity improvement activities.
Take the seemingly simple matter of priorities. Governmental change leaders must realize that the crucial question is: "What comes first?" rather than "What should be done?" This, we are afraid, is why President Obama's stimulus and healthcare packages are duds.
Everyone agreed, in general, what should be done. Very few agreed as to what should be done first. The normal human reaction of less experienced executives is to evade the priority decisions by attempting to do a little bit of everything.
The "Let's do a little bit of everything" approach results in enormous staffs without concentrating enough effort in any one area to make things really happen.
An Example...and Its Lessons
Peter F. Drucker frequently cited the impressive example of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the ‘30s. Said Drucker:
"The bill establishing the TVA only passed Congress despite tremendous opposition because its backers promised a dozen different, if not incompatible, benefits to a dozen different and mutually antagonistic constituencies: cheap power, cheap fertilizer, flood control, irrigation, navigation, committed development and whatnot.
"TVA's first administrator, Arthur Morgan, a great engineer, then attempted to live up to these promises and to satisfy every one of his constituencies. The only result was an uncontrollably growing bureaucracy...uncontrollably growing expenditures...and a total lack of any performance.
"Indeed, the TVA in its early years resembles nothing as much as one of those 'messes,' which we now attack in Washington.
"Then President Roosevelt removed Morgan and put in a totally unknown, young Wisconsin utilities lawyer, David Lilienthal, who immediately—against all advice from all the 'pros'—announced his priority: power production.
"And within a year, the TVA produced results—and Lowenthal, by the way—met no opposition, but was universally acclaimed as a savior."
In more general terms, many feel the administration must make priority decisions with respect to what must be accomplished.
After they succeed, then other programs can be initiated and efforts expended on accomplishing clearly defined goals.
The Obama administration should start prioritizing what it is they're going to do.
Indeed, intelligent discussions concerning priorities will probably generate less hostility than any debate over priorities could have engendered.
Piloting vs. Speculating: Pilot-Driven Innovation Makes People More Receptive to Change
Are You Asking and Answering the Right Questions?
The Four Steps You Must Take to Create the Future
Producing Innovation: A Systems Approach
Surveys Produce Jaw-Dropping Gains in Knowledge and Service Worker Productivity!
The Inevitable Battle Between Required Change and the Maintenance of the Status Quo
How to Produce Innovation: Creating the Entrepreneurial Equivalent of Smallness Within the Larger Organization
Healthcare Reform Will Remain A Good Intention Unless Appropriate Measurements Are Defined and Monitored
Introduction to Performance Measurement and Control Systems
Shrinking to Grow: Change Requires Abandonment
PEX-Finance DACH 2014
Dorint Pallas, Wiesbaden, Germany
October 27- 29, 2014
Operational Excellence in Oil and Gas
Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria , Houston, TX
November 3- 5, 2014
Business Transformation Summit
Arjaan by Rotana, Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates
November 16- 19, 2014
Reduce the Risk of BPM Project Failure with a New Approach to Project Management
May 22, 2014
How to Create Powerful KPIs that Drive Action
April 30, 2014