New Jersey's Manage by Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes

 

New Jersey's Manage by Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes

Monday, March 9th, 2015 - 0:00
Monday, March 9, 2015 - 17:04
Over the last decade, a major trend in government management has involved the increased use of data by government executives.

The "data" movement has many names. In Robert Behn's new book, The Performance Stat Potential, "PerformanceStat" refers to the many "Stat" programs initiated after the New York City Police Department successfully launched CompStat in the 1990s.Others use the term "analytics" to capture the use of data.

While the trend toward increased use of data to measure performance has received much attention, the training that civil servants need to use data effectively has received less attention. In response to this lack of emphasis, the IBM Center sponsored a study, New Jersey's Manage by Data Program: Changing Culture and Capacity to Improve Outcomes, by David Lambert and Julie Atkins, University of Southern Maine, to examine the New Jersey Department of Children and Families' (NJDCF) implementation of a Manage by Data executive education program. Following reform efforts required to improve the state's child welfare system, New Jersey implemented an automated child welfare information system, drawing on the extensive amount of system data now available. The next challenge was to develop the ability of the state's child welfare managers to effectively use data.

The challenge NJDCF faced was not just to use data more effectively; more importantly, it was to change the agency's culture to become more performance- and outcome-driven. Starting in 2009, the department began designing the Manage by Data training program. Ultimately, 100 agency managers were selected compete to join the first cohort class. Fellows were trained to become knowledgeable consumers of data, to more effectively utilize data to manage change, and to work to improve their organizations' outcomes. Subsequently, two additional cohorts were launched. Although the program's initial focus was on training employees to make better use of data, its ultimate goal was to change the department's culture.

This report presents five strategies for changing organizational culture toward data-driven decision making:

  1. Create a common language
  2. Be clear about ambassador role and provide tools to succeed
  3. Make participation an honor
  4. Strive for quick wins
  5. Align people and processes

 

The report also includes a set of findings from the authors' evaluation of the Manage by Data program. Lambert and Atkins found that the program had a clear, positive impact, and changed the way NJDCF conducts its operations. Agency staffers now use data on the job more effectively and make changes in agency programs based on their analysis of data.

The report concludes with three recommendations on how agency leadership can implement a culture change initiative:

  1. Agency leadership must establish a vision for the program and drive the change
  2. Agency leadership can use data analytics to support change in agency performance and outcomes
  3. Agency leadership should align data analytics programs with the agency's priorities and processes

We hope that government leaders who are interested in effectively leveraging the use of data and driving culture change will find this report helpful and useful. It is now clear that if data and analytics are to be effectively utilized in government organizations, it is essential that organizations train and develop their staff to use data.