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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Hypothesis About Leadership Culture In Government

Here is a hypothesis, see what you think:

  1. Economic survival dictates organizational culture.
  2. Organizational culture dictates expected team behaviors.
  3. Expected team behaviors dictate individual behavior.
  4. The behaviors we carry out dictate our beliefs about what is right and wrong.
  5. And then the feedback loop - we process what they tell us to do, then spit back a modified cultural model as we become leaders ourselves.
In the case of private industry, where competition rules, pleasing the customer is #1 because customers can go anywhere to fulfill their needs.

What seems to be happening in the government now is an increasing realization that we no longer have a monopoly over the services we provide. Rather we are in competition and can be put out of business by other parties who may work faster, better, cheaper. So it is in our economic best interest to become more customer-centric.

The hypothesis would then apply to government 2.0 like this:

1) Economic survival dictates organizational culture - and so in the future we will increasingly seek to do a better job of pleasing the customer, who has choices and can find alternative means of obtaining what we provide.

2) Organizational culture dictates expected team behaviors - customer-centric government will mean that no matter what the policy is, if it's not working to serve the customer then it must be questioned, modified, deleted.

3) Expected team behaviors dictate individual behavior - the more we form teams, committees, task forces, and departments that question policies on the basis of customer-centricity, the more individual staffers will do the same.

4) The behaviors we carry out dictate our beliefs about what is right and wrong - in the not too distant future it will become axiomatic that the customer (whoever that may be) comes first. It will be like, "Of course!" rather than "Oh no, that would be too difficult/costly."

5) And then the feedback loop - we process what they tell us to do, then spit back a modified cultural model as we become leaders ourselves. - Each successive generation will interpret the dictum of economic survival for itself; create a culture accordingly; and the cycle will continue.

But the key difference between Gov 1.0 and Gov 2.0 and successive iterations is that transition from being a monopoly to being a brand among other brands, and trying to distinguish ourselves as the best possible brand among many choices.

This whole thing reminds me of what Henry Ford said about his Model T: "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black."

Only worked when the competition was horses.

(Image & quote: Wikipedia; originally posted as a comment on GovLoop)


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