Category: Project Management

Stealth Startup

photodune-4048532-technology-xsIt’s a very intriguing name for Obama’s quest to recruit top talent from the likes of Google and Facebook. While this article in Fast Company is long, it’s a very interesting one, focusing on the mission of these top recruits – to “reboot” how government works.

Most of these recruits are young professionals that were on successful career tracks with public companies. What made them take a salary cut, move from one coast to another and work for the government is brilliantly explained in this article. Without a doubt, the transfixing power of creating technology that will make life easier for millions of people, had a lot to do with the decision to take a technology job in Obama’s administration. The article explains what inspires these young men and women and helps us more fully understand their work ethics.

We highly recommend that you put some time aside at lunch, or at the end of the day to read the entire article, but here are some of the high points.

  • – remember when the site just didn’t work? People were getting locked up and the site froze from too many visitors. It wasn’t the result of a dearth of engineering talent in the DC area, but rather the technique they used to build the site. Instead of one huge project, the fix-it team rolled out the site in stages – testing it, improving it and repeating the process to get the right outcome. It’s a strategy used by most public companies in order to build software that works. It’s called building “agile” software.
  • Making Government Work Better – The young people recruited for these government projects aren’t just software engineers, but according to the article, “they’re data scientist, user-experience gurus, product managers and design savants.” Making the user experience better on any platform is what they strive for. “Fixing bugs” for software companies is not very inspirational. But solving problems that have plagued the government for years is both satisfying and intriguing. These young professionals are uniquely capable of handling these “planet-sized” websites, since they’ve worked on huge sites solving various problems while creating extraordinary growth for their former companies.
  • Changing Minds About the Slowness of Government – According to this group of talented professionals, “Everything else is getting done faster.” The technology industry is built on the belief that processes can become twice as efficient every two years. Because that belief is so integral to their work, these professionals have a hunger for increased performance. If what we do online every day is completed far faster than before, then the same should be true for the Federal government.
  • Washington, the “Go-To” Place for Technology Gurus – The folks now being lured to DC are arguably among the very best. Talent is extremely important, but so is attitude, patience, collaboration and the ability to work within the structure of the government. According to the article, candidates are screened for EQ – that is, emotional intelligence. The workload within the Federal Government is huge. Can this team create enough momentum, before Obama’s second term ends, to achieve a stable environment and re-energize government agencies?

These technology gurus believe they’ve already had an impact. They can gauge improvement on various sites – from the Immigration site to the Veterans website. Interestingly enough, the recruitment team is not expecting these young professionals to make a career out of the Federal Government. But rather to enlist them for a year or two to accomplish real change. As a result, there is now a third option open to technology gurus – a start-up, a big company and now, Washington.

Tip: Making Incremental Changes

Steps to the sunThe site successfully deployed by making incremental changes, testing the changes and making improvements. Can this process of incremental change work at your organization? Here are some thoughts that might lead to success.

  1. Making incremental changes is not as disruptive and typically does not significantly threaten existing structures.
  2. Incremental changes are typically slower, but can move a team steadily forward. Incremental gains prove better than none at all.
  3. Often, the magnitude of a change will dictate how employees react. Employees will often react positively to a change that does not cause them to move too far from what they know.
  4. Incremental change is often determined by the gap between the current state and where you want to end up. If the gap is large, incremental changes may not be possible. But incremental changes require less change management – you’re asking your employees to make a smaller leap from what they know, to what they are comfortable with.

Change and change management can be taught. LMJA works with organizational challenges. If you need help or would like to discuss your options, give us a call at 301-670-0051, or email me at

Shrinking Space

photodune-3951848-office-working-space-xsThe OMB, Office of Management and Budget, is putting federal office space and excess property into a deeper freeze. Announced Wednesday, April 1, OMB is requiring civilian agencies and the Defense Department to create a plan for reducing their footprint over the next 5 years. David Mader, the OMB controller announced two mandates: Set a target for reduction in square footage and adopt space design standards for any future development.

One Tactic. Reducing the total real property footprint will most likely result in more expanded teleworking for agencies and the DOD. If agencies cannot lease or buy new space, they must consolidate. The reduction plan has already had positive results since it was announced in 2013. This five year plan will likely shrink the overall footprint even more.

Successful Teleworking. So how do agencies heed this call for a smaller footprint? Achieving a successful telework program will certainly help. And according to the Report to the Congress on the 2013 Status of Telework in the Federal Government, most successful telework programs have been achieved through organizational change. When agencies actively work toward change management, goal setting becomes an essential practice. Goals that are SMART, that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, help provide the motivation to facilitate progress. So an agency that is serious about promoting a change in work toward teleworking can gauge its success and effectiveness of the program by setting SMART goals.

Measuring Success. What goals can your agency use to measure its success? Here are some examples.

  • Increase the eligibility for telework positions
  • Set a number (percentage) of the employees that you expect to telework consistently in the coming year
  • Set a number (percentage) of the employees that you expect to telework during certain situations in the coming year
  • Develop and monitor a survey quarterly to measure the effectiveness of teleworking
  • Measure the cost savings of telework
  • Add a telework performance goal to employee reviews
  • Identify Best Practices of telework employees and publish

Proof of Success. Over the next five years, as OMB requires agencies to reduce their footprint. Assessing your goals and results will be key. Developing clear goals, and meeting them, is possible with the right focus.

Need Help? Leah M. Joppy & Associates can help your agency identify needs and solutions. Then we’ll put together the right program for you – and get results! Give us a call at (301) 670-0051 to discuss an approach that will work for your agency.