Wednesday, April 20, 2016
On Wednesday, November 9, the new President-elect and his or her transition team will begin to make what promises to be an unrelenting barrage of decisions.

For the duration of their time in office, the president and members of the administration will seek to make smart and timely decisions that advance a presidential agenda and respond to emerging challenges.

Some decisions, such as those that inform the budget, will follow well-worn processes and timelines.  In other cases, new decision processes will address emerging challenges. How incoming leaders make decisions will significantly influence the effectiveness of their choices.

Improving decision-making for the next administration – and for the transition team that precedes it – is the subject of a new report released jointly today by the IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service.  Enhancing the Government’s Decision-Making: Helping Leaders Make Smart and Timely Decisions, by Ed DeSeve, makes establishing deliberate decision frameworks to help a new Administration.  The report provides actionable recommendations that include:

  • Clearly define and articulate how the new administration will make decisions in different situations. This advice falls into the category of ‘easy to say and hard to do.’ By being deliberate and thoughtful about how they approach decision making, leaders can help their organizations be more responsive and effective.
  • Adopt an “enterprise” approach to decision making. A recent report on Enterprise Government laid out why priorities should be approached from a cross-agency perspective. The same is true when it comes to establishing processes for decision-making. Choices should be made in their local context, and placed within the larger enterprise context -- lest agencies make locally optimal decisions that sub-optimize the government-wide results.
  • Take advantage of existing analytic capabilities. Across the government, functions such as risk management, benchmarking and strategic foresight can bring analytic rigor to decision processes. Incoming leaders need to be aware of analytical capabilities, and use them in the design and execution of decision processes.

The report is part of a joint effort by the IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service to develop a Management Roadmap for the next administration.   The Management Roadmap is a piece of the Partnership’s Center for Presidential Transition Ready to Govern initiative.

The recommendations stem from a roundtable discussion held in November 2015 with current and former career and political government leaders from varied backgrounds and political affiliations. A clear theme from the discussion was that both existing decision processes and emerging challenges can be addressed more effectively given clarity on how decisions are made.  There are processes that can deliver timely and accurate information and insights to leaders.

The complex, varied and sheer number of impactful decisions that will face the new Administration can swamp even experienced leaders. By taking advantage of early transition planning to develop deliberate approaches to decision making, the next administration can be better prepared to make smart and timely choices – starting on November 9th, 2016.