Open Government is Change Management… On Steroids

Giovanni Carnaroli, the associate CIO for IT policy oversight at the Department of Transportation, and Jenn Gustetic from Phase One Consulting Group presented at the Open Government: Strategies and Tactics from the Play Book event last week. For those of you that couldn’t make it, we are introducing our thoughts about how to approach Open Government to you on the blogosphere with this posting:

  • Open Government planning is about more than tools and technology. It is about the “trinity” of Technology, Policy and Culture.
  • Developing and using a comprehensive Open Government framework is possible and it can help you stay on track throughout the program lifecycle.
  • Engaging an interdisciplinary leadership and planning team from the beginning is crucial to tap into tacit knowledge and mitigate risks.

We feel that Open Government is ultimately about driving innovation through collaboration. We are heading towards that goal by getting the right people at the leadership table from the beginning and by following a framework that is focused, comprehensive and flexible in an attempt to avoid as many downstream issues as possible. We have incorporated the technology, policy and cultural elements that are essential to understand in any Open Government effort into a framework that will enable Agencies to meet their strategic objectives, mitigate risks, and improve performance through their Open Government Plan. This framework will help you answer two questions: “how should I approach managing the change required for a more Open Government?” and “who should I involve in Open Government?”

We hope that this framework will serve as the starting point for an Open Government best practice methodology (similar to FSAM), developed through a multi-agency effort.

How should I approach managing the change required for a more Open Government?

Bottom line, the Open Gov initiative represents a shift in the way we engage with the public and innovate. This is change management…on steroids.

And how do you traditionally manage change and business transformation? Through a pretty basic lifecycle management approach; assess, plan, implement, measure, and improve. But how do you assess your current state? How do you plan for your desired state? That’s where the “wheel” you see on the graphic below comes in. The wheel acknowledges that the technology, policy and culture components at your organization are all critical to understand before moving into planning. Some people see these areas as hurdles they must overcome, and others see them as resources. We see them each as unique and crucial areas for transformation throughout the Open Gov lifecycle.

POCG is proud to have supported DOT in the development of this framework

For technology, we suggest the critical areas include security, infrastructure, tools and current pilots and programs. For policy we suggest the areas are strategic planning, performance, legal and internal directives. And finally for culture we suggest the critical areas are employee readiness, communication channels, agency stakeholders, and those areas where the agency is already participating with the public, albeit not through Gov 2.0 tools. We will be releasing another blog series soon that will run through each of these areas in detail.

Note that each critical area and the corresponding activities in the five lifecycle phases can be thought of as a “cake slice”. There are distinct activities associated with the assess, plan, implement, measure, and improve phases of the each of the key areas that the appropriate office should be heavily involved in.

Who should be involved in Open Gov strategy and planning at your organization? On the framework graphic, there is a grey ring around the color wheel that contains various offices within the organization. This ring highlights what office tends to be the subject matter expert in each of these crucial areas. Walking around the circle, this framework shows that the chief information officer, project managers for key mission areas, public affairs, human resources, chief financial officer, general counsel, and policy development offices should all be engaged in the leadership and planning of an Open Gov effort. If you want more detail about what each of these offices tend to care about in the Open Gov space, check out the “Open Gov leadership team” blog series we released in October.

Bottom line: It’s important to involve folks from each of these critical areas at the beginning of the effort in order to tap into their tacit knowledge and ensure downstream challenges are mitigated.

Open Government strategy and planning is not about picking one tool and running with it. It is about fundamentally changing the way the Federal government interacts with citizens and its employees to reduce costs, improve decision making, mitigate risks, and stimulate innovation. That is a huge endeavor but this framework organizes the chaos and may enable you to more effectively tie agency strategic goals and performance targets to Open Government transformation efforts.

(Note: Originally posted on the Phase One Consulting Group, Government Transformation Blog when I was an employee there.