This time of year is normally when we are motivated to make a resolution for positive change. We make plans to do something that will result in an improvement in our personal lives or our families lives. I believe universally, change is hard, which is why so many resolutions fail. We know that change will be positive and yet we still fail. This also extends to our work.
Significant change cannot occur in government or elsewhere until the need to cooperate outweighs the desire to preserve the status quo. In the alternative environment very few rewards are available for successfully taking risks.
Why is it hard to embrace change, especially at work?
Two motivators of change are metrics and surveys, and both we rely on heavily to make decisions at the State of Nebraska. These are seldom mentioned elsewhere in the public sector and certainly not published for the public to review. Assessments are often seen as a level of accountability to be avoided at all cost, rather than a valuable source of information for change. Maintaining the status quo may be easier and lower risk to your enduring employment.
Maintaining the status quo presents a lesser chance of failure, which is always present when you attempt to make changes. And, in government there is rarely praise for change. Even good change often is criticized, sometimes years after its success was demonstrated.
Public sector organizational leadership commonly prioritizes the needs of their particular silo or department over the success of the whole. Any shift of resources away from their sphere of control is viewed as a loss. Even the hiring process tends to place greater weight on preserving the status quo with candidates from within the system that share the organization’s views, than on selecting candidates who are agents of change or differing views.
Innovation is a type of change that is often more difficult in the public sector. The individual leaders may not have a reference point for the situation, or they lack sufficient familiarity with the technological advances and organizational efficiencies. Openness to this form of change in the private sector is a matter of survival.
How did Nebraska change?
State leadership while acknowledging agency differences continued to support and facilitate change through organizational restructuring and process improvement. In Nebraska, each agency is required to clearly define goals and priorities with the means to provide assessment and accountability.
Our mission, vision and priorities are clearly stated and understood by every agency. The communication of these can be found readily on our screensaver, which is on each of our computer monitors. In cabinet and leadership meetings, in yearly reviews and personal goals, the administration’s mission is well designed and reinforced by action and accountability.
Studies have proven that technology is an essential force for enacting significant and long-lasting change. Information Technology consolidation has been effective far beyond what we initially envisioned at the Office of the CIO, impacting the mission, priorities and the very culture of the State of Nebraska. Consolidation positively changed our ability to react to the pandemic rapidly and without issues.
As always, I appreciate all that you do for the State of Nebraska.