Monday, June 13, 2011
Introducing a new blog series from the IBM Center for the Business of Government, based on the publication, Seven Management Imperatives.

The IBM Center is committed to helping government executives and managers address real world management challenges with practical ideas and original thinking.

Over the last 13 years, we published more than 300 research reports and interviewed some 300 senior government executives.  It is from this rich library that we’ve identified several broad societal trends that we believe are changing what it takes to be a successful leader at all levels of government.

Societal Trends Changing the Game for Government

The role of technology in how people and organizations interact. 
Technology has made it easier to collect, aggregate, and display data.  Citizens can easily access data that makes them more informed and sophisticated actors.  This trend has changed the relationship of citizens to their government.

A changing understanding of “the organization.” 
Technological advances have also led to increased questioning of the effectiveness of hierarchies and bureaucracies that typify large public and private organizations.  Bureaucratic hierarchies are now beginning to shift to more collaborative teams working toward common goals.

Demographic shifts within the workforce.  
Government leaders face challenges on how to best organize, operate, and execute their mission most effectively for multiple generations.  For example, younger workers are the most comfortable using social media tools and collaborating across organizations.  This generation is less influenced than older workers are by hierarchical position, and more interested in the specific contribution they make.  Leaders must find new ways to balance the talents and expectations of a very diverse workforce.

The expanding scale of societal problems and fiscal constraints.  
Today’s complex societal problems will require responses that reach beyond traditional agency and government level boundaries.  In addition, ever-increasing fiscal constraints will force government leaders and managers to radically rethink how work gets done.

A greater appreciation of engaging employees and citizens.  
There is a growing understanding that, in order to address complex issues in an increasingly diffuse environment, greater employee engagement and citizen participation must occur.  This requires that employees and citizens both play greater roles in identifying problems and delivering solutions than ever before.  Engagement increases their sense of legitimacy and ownership.

In a world where increasing demands are becoming routine, and preparation means understanding the big picture and the larger context, these broad societal trends are changing the game for government leaders and managers.  This series will explain how the world is changing and, more importantly, how government leaders can adapt to excel in the new environment.


Seven Imperatives


Based on these insights and trends, this series will detail seven management imperatives that government leaders and public managers must pursue to manage effectively in this new environment.

  • Imperative One: Act with strategic intent
  • Imperative Two: Leverage hyperconnectivity
  • Imperative Three: Manage through collaboration
  • Imperative Four: Use real-time performance data
  • Imperative Five: Respond to the new security environment
  • Imperative Six: Work with the private sector in new ways
  • Imperative Seven: Cut costs and improve performance

The impact of these management imperatives will be seen at all levels of government within the United States—federal, state, and local—as well as in governments around the world.  In fact, we first saw many of these imperatives in play in other countries; only now are they increasingly taking hold in the United States. 

Throughout the summer, this blog will detail each management imperative based on insights offered in our most recent report, Seven Management Imperatives.  It reflects our sense of what lies ahead.  Government leaders and managers must incorporate these imperatives into their management approaches in the coming years.  In the end, we hope that these management imperatives are insightful, instructive, and ultimately helpful to today’s government leaders and managers. 

For a more in-depth exploration of each management imperative, you may download the full report.