Delivering outcomes, building trust

risk management 

Delivering outcomes and building trust are at the heart of any successful change in the federal technology market. Having a keen focus on delivering mission outcomes is what allows the proposed adoption of new technology to engage the customer, inspire the workforce and gain the support of senior leaders. Far too often, technology solutions are hyped almost for their own sake, as if the adoption of a shiny new tech solution will provide the answer to your prayers, rather than just potentially add more cost to an already cumbersome and antiquated process.

And while focusing on outcomes matter, without a focus on building trust, success can still be an elusive target. As Stephen M R Covey pointed out in his book, “The Speed of Trust,” a lack of trust exerts a huge price in terms of time and effort, regardless of whether we’re talking about the frequent lack of trust within large organizations (both public and private) or the more existential challenge of waning trust public in government and public institutions. 

It’s because of the importance of these two themes -- outcomes and trust -- that I am so delighted to be working with a group of outstanding former federal leaders and current industry executives who have successfully navigated past presidential transitions in delivering ACT-IAC’s presidential election capstone document, appropriately titled, “Delivering Outcomes, Building Trust.”

Elections are always tricky to navigate. Regardless of whether the upcoming election results in a second term or a transition to a new administration, one thing is certain, a large number of political and career leaders will leave public service. And as is almost inevitably the case, when new leaders arrive, human nature is often to abandon the work of your predecessors in favor of your new agenda. In government though, there are on-going initiatives that must continue regardless of party or individual, to include the progress that’s been made in “Cloud smart,” shared services, data and digital efforts, technology modernization and cybersecurity.

Perhaps even more importantly, there are also a number of crucial new issues and challenges that must be addressed. ACT-IAC’s Agenda 2021 Project focuses on these issues that transcend parties/politics, and highlights both current and new work that must have our collective attention in the months and years ahead. In addition, the project has many intended audiences, not only incoming political appointees, but also the career executives who must navigate the way ahead, as well as the broader federal market -- industry, Congress and other partner organizations.

The report highlights a number of challenges and opportunities, to include:

  • The imperative for managing rather than avoiding risk and increasing our focus on the resiliency of our systems and institutions.
  • The power of partnerships to enhance the development of ideas, mitigate risks, improve resiliency, drive innovation and foster agility.
  • The dramatic improvement that will result from a more agile government.
  • The call to action to transform our national infrastructure -- both physical and digital.
  • The breakthroughs from harnessing new technologies, to include intelligent automation and 5G.
  • The magic of placing the customer’s experience and human-centered design at the center of projects and initiatives.
  • The importance of improving data quality and availability for both more effective decision-making and creating entrepreneurial engines.
  • The adoption of digital solutions.
  • The recognition that new cybersecurity approaches are needed to accelerate rather than delay the transition to the virtual world we will face post-pandemic.

Without a plan, any road will do, and without measurable outcomes, you won’t be able to adjust course as you move forward. There are a lot of good insights in “Delivering Outcomes, Managing Trust,” and I encourage you to give it a read, let us know what you think, and then help pick up the brush and paint an even brighter future for our Nation.

About the Author

David M. Wennergren is the CEO of ACT-IAC, the national non-profit public-private partnership dedicated to advancing the business of government through the application of technology. Follow him on Twitter at @davewennergren.


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