23 April, 2020
22 April, 2020
The reality of responding to a situation like this is that things are changing day by day and hour by hour. We need to be responsive to the changing context, do the right thing for users, especially the front line and coordinate with the rest of the government. Long standing governance mechanisms like monthly board meetings, detailed risk logs and gantt charts fail to facilitate the responsiveness that we so crucially need. This certainly isn’t a time to dispense with governance but never has it been so important to implement it in a way that supports our work.
In this post, we are taking the term ‘governance’ to refer to the whole range of activities including the way people outside a team oversee, monitor, challenge, understand, support, direct, and control our work.
19 April, 2020
At seven years old, more or less overnight, I went from being this little kid without a care in the world to being a person with real responsibilities. And they weren’t the type of responsibilities that I could opt out of. You take a day off from treatment….. that’s not five minutes in the timeout corner or a stern talking-to or whatever. It’s life and death. You don’t have a choice — you have to do it.
You have to show up.
So why do I bring this all up now? Not for sympathy, that I can promise you. Sympathy has never interested me. And not for attention, I can promise you that as well. I’ve never wanted any attention for my condition, and I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that I haven’t been defined by it. The reason I bring it up now is because I think that managing a condition like diabetes and reaching the highest level of a sport — reaching the highest level of anything, honestly — actually have something pretty essential in common.
18 April, 2020
The party’s leaders believe they have a narrow window of strategic opportunity to strengthen their rule and revise the international order in their favor—before China’s economy sours, before the population grows old, before other countries realize that the party is pursuing national rejuvenation at their expense, and before unanticipated events such as the coronavirus pandemic expose the vulnerabilities the party created in the race to surpass the United States and realize the China dream. The party has no intention of playing by the rules associated with international law, trade, or commerce. China’s overall strategy relies on co-option and coercion at home and abroad, as well as on concealing the nature of China’s true intentions. What makes this strategy potent and dangerous is the integrated nature of the party’s efforts across government, industry, academia, and the military.
And, on balance, the Chinese Communist Party’s goals run counter to American ideals and American interests.
11 April, 2020
One hypothesis: frustration is simply part of the challenge. Civic technologists can easily relate their frustrations with veterans of large institutions, both public and private. Occupational disillusionment is timeless and government is not the only place where red tape abounds and “nobody likes change.”
I think there’s more to the story. The job titles got me thinking. What if “bureaucracy hacker,” “service designer,” “innovation specialist,” or “digital transformation director” imply a level of discretion and autonomy that is fundamentally incompatible with the role of civil servants?
Are in-house civic technologists holding themselves accountable for things outside their remit and mistaking head-banging frustration with fighting for real change?
10 April, 2020
07 April, 2020
From the point of view of the Christian faith, there is nothing necessarily wrong with concern for power. At the heart of the Protestant Reformation is the belief that ultimate power belongs to God alone and that men become most inhuman when concentrations of power lead to the conviction—overt or covert—that any nation, race or organization can rival God in this regard. At issue in the relations between whites and Negroes in America is the problem of inequality of power. Out of this imbalance grows the disrespect of white men for the Negro personality and community, and the disrespect of Negroes for themselves. This is a fundamental root of human injustice in America. In one sense, the concept of "black power" reminds us of the need for and the possibility of authentic democracy in America.
Unfortunately, most leadership “recipes” arise from examples of good crisis management. This is a mistake, and not only because chaotic situations are mercifully rare. Though the events of September 11 were not immediately comprehensible, the crisis demanded decisive action. New York’s mayor at the time, Rudy Giuliani, demonstrated exceptional effectiveness under chaotic conditions by issuing directives and taking action to reestablish order. However, in his role as mayor—certainly one of the most complex jobs in the world—he was widely criticized for the same top-down leadership style that proved so enormously effective during the catastrophe. He was also criticized afterward for suggesting that elections be postponed so he could maintain order and stability. Indeed, a specific danger for leaders following a crisis is that some of them become less successful when the context shifts because they are not able to switch styles to match it.
Moreover, leaders who are highly successful in chaotic contexts can develop an overinflated self-image, becoming legends in their own minds. When they generate cultlike adoration, leading actually becomes harder for them because a circle of admiring supporters cuts them off from accurate information.