#BeyondTheBox: 5 Insights for Improving Organizational Agility

By InnovatorsBox (Written by Kristen Dalton. Edited by Aakriti Pandey.)

Ronald Reagan once said "the role of government is to protect the people, not run their lives". Thomas Jefferson said "the care of human life and happiness is the first and only object of a good government". Like the two presidents, everyone, from presidents to citizens, seems to have varying opinions of what government should and shouldn't do.

But what about the multitudes of people that work in the government, who run the processes, the systems, and the protocols? What are their roles and how have they evolved over time? How are they changing (or not) with the technological gush and flare? 

We wanted to get some insights on how emerging technologies that push the pace and behavior of people and disrupt the market has really impacted the responsibility of the 21st-century government.

So on March 30, at InnovatorsBox’s first #BeyondTheBox speaker series of 2017, we asked the experts:

  • Crystal YanUX Researcher/Design and Product Manager at FiscalNote, a start-up in Washington, D.C.

  • Allan FriedmanDirector of Cybersecurity Initiatives at National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Adam ZuckermanDirector of Ventures and Innovation at Discovery Communications

  • Kristen HoneySenior Policy Analyst for the Federal Chief Information Office in the White House Office of Management and Budget

 
The speakers. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

The speakers. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

 

More than 30 people attended the event, which took place at WeWork on K Street. Whether they were from small businesses, non-profits, federal government, or academia, everyone was interested in improving the culture in their organizations so they could be more productive, and in the end, more valuable to their customers. They were seeking ways to improve their respective agility, at an individual level of expertise and influence, as well as ways to scale these practices to others on their team and throughout their organization.

Here are our top 5 insights to be more quick, nimble, and agile:

Include Users in Your Process

Getting feedback directly from customers is key to understanding what their true and latent needs are. Plus, you can build authentic relationships with them during a shared journey of collaboration. Kristen Honey recommends adopting agile methodologies to work directly with people on small, short-term iterations of a solution rather than creating a long-terms solution on your own, that may or may not end up serving their needs.

 
Adam Zuckerman and Allan Friedman. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

Adam Zuckerman and Allan Friedman. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

 

Determine Your Impact: Incremental vs. Disruptive

According to Adam Zuckerman, progress can be measured as either incremental or disruptive change, and it can be determined by what an individual or organization wants to achieve. So focus is the key. It will help you decide who you need to execute your impact.

Build a team and Maximize Your Time

Time is everyone’s most valuable resource and inclusivity is king. Expertise and experience can be more transformative when everyone has access to the same information and new perspectives are considered. This enables people to maximize their strengths and improve weakness through knowledge share and collective understanding.

Fun tip from Crystal Yan: maximize internal meetings by creating opportunities for visual learning. Have white boards present and instead of using words to describe ideas, have team members draw out their understanding of what is being discussed.

 
Crystal Yan (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

Crystal Yan (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

 

Technology Outpaces Policy

Start-ups can show us what’s possible. It’s our responsibility to make policy a priority, as laws and regulations tend to lag behind the latest and greatest technologies that accelerate the rate of change in our society. Allan Friedman recommends embracing the sharing economy common among the start-up community to frame the right problems, determine the appropriate experts, and manage industry change across disciplines.

Don’t Let Security Get in the Way of Creativity

Innovation is hyperpersonalized and creativity requires restraints. But the system shouldn’t impede progress on new development, whether it is organizational change, strategic initiatives, new product launches, or cybersecurity. The system should be flexible to embrace reasonable risk-taking, but often times it requires buy-in from colleagues and senior leaders to pursue passion projects. Many of these leaders are secure in jobs based on a system you are trying to change. Stay passionate!

 
Maria Smith asking question. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

Maria Smith asking question. (Photo Credit: Pierre Edwards, District Dodger)

 

As of Aug 2015, the government employees have outnumbered those employed by manufacturing industry by 1.8 to 1. We had just a touch below 22Million people employed by Federal, State and Local government in the US, in Aug 2015!

So we had to stop to give it a thought to learn how the government executes its services. We had to drop our conversations about hot political debates on the sidelines, to really talk about how people work in the government. And we gained so much insights from hearing from the experts and bouncing the ideas in our last #BeyondTheBox event. You can access the event in its entirety through our Facebook page. 

And join us for our next #BeyondTheBox: Education event on Thursday, April 13 from 6-8p.m. at WeWork (1875 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006). RSVP today!

Interested in Rethinking Creativity? Join us for our webinar on Wednesday, April 19 from 12-1 p.m. Secure your spot today!