Force Reduction – Your Targeting a Position, Not a Person?

I recently attended, or should I say, I had the pleasure of attending a training session called the Nuts and Bolts of State Supervision.  I know . . .

Overall, it was helpful and the instructors were knowledgeable and good.  I got a lot of the program and I am glad I attended.

At one point, the discussion focused on layoffs and the somewhat convoluted state layoff system.   But what struck me was a comment made during the session.  The instructor said, “it is important to remember that we are targeting a position, not a person.”  Okay technically true.  A force reduction is about eliminating positions, not particular employees, at least in theory.  However, it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the fact that someone is going to lose his or her job.  And that will have a significant impact on that person and his or her life.

The fact someone is going to be impacted negatively by a force reduction is a fact that managers need to come to terms with.  We need to realize that our action has an impact.  In short, your action will affect another person’s life and yours.

The impact of actions is why the military has begun to talk to soldier about combat before they deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The fact is that if you are deploying to those areas there is a strong likelihood you may have to kill another person.  You can be macho and act cool, but reality often negates our pretenses.  The military does this training in an attempt to reduce PTSD and the impact of taking another life.

Well, in a similar manner managers need to think about the impact  of a layoff.  They need to come to terms with the consequence of their actions.  It is being honest with them selves and mostly likely with the employee they are showing the door.  In the end, if you understand the impact and your role, you can minimize the damage to your self.  In addition, it might help you help the unfortunate individual who is losing his or her job because of a force reduction.  By enlarge, a person who has probably done nothing wrong.  Thus making the impact doubly horrible.

So it is true, in a force reduction you are targeting a position, but remember someone is in that position and that person is losing his or her job.  If you are going to make someone “redundant”, then you better come to terms with the fact that that person is going to suffer a great lose and a lot of stress.  It will be the best thing for you and the person receiving the unfortunate and horrible news.


Model Open Government Directive

In December, Kevin Curry, Alissa Black, Scott Primeau, and I began working on a model open government directive while at Citycamp Colorado.  After a flurry of work over the last month, we, with the help of a few dozen additional open government advocates, are able to bring you the model directive for local government.  This directive will help municipalities and state governments bring about open government in their communities.

As we state in the comments to the directive’s introduction:

The model Local Open Government Directive is intended to be an executive initiated order or directive to the local government under the executive’s legal authority.  An executive leader, such as a mayor, should use this model to adopt a directive for the city to help institutionalize open government principles within the city government.  This model may be tailored to meet the needs of the particular locality.

We modified, tailored, and improved the Federal open government directive for local government.  I encourage you to share this model directive with leaders in your communities and to lend support to our global open government efforts.  In partnership with OpenPlans, we are hosting the directive at In the next couple of days, you will find multiple versions of the directive to fit your needs for sharing the directive with others.

In addition, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation have created a site where you can sign up to show your support for this effort.  Please sign up at

Finally, over the next few weeks and months, we intend to continue to create supporting materials and to draft model open government legislation to help institutionalize open government at all levels.  Together we can make transparency, participation, and collaboration possible in our governments.  If you are interested in getting more involved, please join the Open Government Initiative group.

In addition to Kevin, Alissa, and Scott, I’d like to particularly thank Philip Ashlock, Nicole Aro, and Sean Hudson.  I am forgetting a number of people, but thanks to everyone that participated in the Open Government Initiative group.

This post is a cross post from

From Design Thinking: Checks and balances

The following post is by Tim Brown, author of Change by Design and CEO and President of IDEO. Brown is Mr. Design Thinking. The introduction of design thinking and other methods of design into the public policy realm would have a significantly positive impact on the world. The issue raised by Brown in this post is also addressed by Eggers and O’Leary in there book “If We Can Put a Man on The Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government”.
Checks and balances via Design Thinking by Tim Brown on 11/29/10


Why?  It seems like a simple question.  but it isn’t?  Think about it.  Why do you do what you do?  Why do you work for the company or person that employs you?  

According to Simon Sinek, you might have to think hard because we often focus on the whats in our life.  Sinek wrote an interesting book called Starting with Why.  The book addresses the issue of how do certain leaders, brands, or organizations inspire devotion or action from people.  He points to brands, like Apple and Southwest Airlines, and people, like Martin Luther King, Jr.  What Sinek found is that these brands or people start with why.  They asked and answered the question of why they are doing the business they are doing or leading the movement they are leading.  In other words, they began with their purpose.  Sinek says this is not the typical approach.  Usually we focus on the what or a result.  The message of Apple is more than we are a great computer company.  Look at their recruitment site,  See some themes, “change the world”, “make an impact”, “Less of a job, more of a calling”, and so forth.  Apple is trying to inspire their employees to build the game changers and innovate.   A result is not as inspiring as a purpose.  As Sinek says, Dr. King didn’t have a 10 point plan for success, he had a dream.

In short, as Sinek would state, people don’t buy what you do, they buy (and keep buying) why to do it.  The companies that know their why are Seth Godin’s remarkable brands.  

I work for government.  As such you would think that purpose would not be a problem.  But it really is.  Government service (or work) really shouldn’t be short on purpose.  After all, we are suppose to be public servants or civil servants.  We purport to work for the common good.  Of course, anti-government sentiment does not help.  But so what?

Dr. King lead a revolution that was not well accepted.  Apple is the darling of some, but hated by many.  These inspirational few faced the challenges and moved on.  It is not about being loved or liked.  It is really about something more.

I recently talked to a friend who works for the main CLE provider in Colorado about change.  That discussion touched on this topic because she stated that one of the truly important things that helped Colorado CLE was when they focused less on credits and more on education.  Or as she would say they started to think beyond credits.  The funny thing about that seemingly simple or trivial point is that it is not simple or trivial.  That is Colorado CLE’s purpose.  They are about legal education and learning for attorneys.  They are about practice improvement and growth.  It is probably why they produce such high quality products.  And that is the point! When employees have a purpose or when a brand has a purpose more than a product then good things start to happen.

So here is all I am asking you, what is your why?  Why do you do what you do?  

The following is a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek on his ideas.  Enjoy!  It may just change your day and dare I say life!

What do words mean?

What is government 2.0/gov 2.0?  How do we define it?  Is it the same as open government?  Is it about technology? Is it about culture?  Is it a buzzword or marketing hook?  Is it a word people throw around to seem smart and hip?  

Well, I am not sure what the answer is to any of these and for the most part I don’t care.  But I have talked to a few non-govies lately and they look at me blankly when I have used Gov 2.0  in conversations.  So I found myself trying to explain it.  So here is a thought on the definition of gov 2.0.  How about democracy?  How about what government is supposed to be?

My point here is not to define gov 2.0 or any other term we throw around.  It is rather about how we talk and address the topic of gov 2.0 to the non-in coward.  The people not on Govloop.  People who don’t listen to Gov 2.0 Radio.  People who do not subscribe to any gov 2.0 related list serves or forums.

My contracts professor in Law School once asked my classmates and I, what do words mean?  A few my colleagues struggled in the law school tradition for a suitable answer.  In the end, my professor looked at us wisely and said in his dry midwestern style, “what we say they mean”.  It was a funny yet very true moment. If you don’t belief me, ask a lawyer to define consideration for you.  (or click here).  

Words matter, but understanding is more important.  If we confuse our audience with jargon and buzzwords, then we fail.  So perhaps, we should use plain and direct language to talk about our movement.  If you have to use jargon, make your definition clear.  But in the end, do not used jargon.  A Colorado Supreme Court Justice once told me and a group of others, relying on jargon is lazy.  So don’t be lazy when talking to people or when you write about our movement.  Its to important.  If it is hard. . . well all I can say is tough.      

If you really insist on using all of the in terms and talk, well then go talk and share your ideas with someone else.  Because the rest of us are busy doing and getting stuff done.  

In the end, we all have good ideas we want to talk about, but innovation requires us to do something with those ideas.  And right now our country and communities need us to execute on our good ideas.  

So lets get to work and get stuff done.  I’ll let you define stuff because you know the definition better than I do.

Being like kids

Innovation!  What leads to those break throughs ideas that really help society?  Hard work and well embracing your inner child is one thought.  In the following TED talk Adora Svitak talks about what we adults can learn from children. 

It would probably be better put to say that we adults need to remember the important things in live.  Like imagination, creativity, and discovery.  Those things society has taught us to undervalue.  The only problem is those things lead to innovation.  Along with hard work! 

Enjoy the talk.  Also notice that Svitak uses a Prezi rather than a PPT deck. 

What really motivates us?

Dan Pink, author of a Whole New Mind,  has a new book out about motivation and what drives (which happens to be the title) humans.  I pick up Drive after seeing the following TED talk.  This book and talk should get you thinking about what really drives us humans to achieve and get things done.  The answer in short is that it is not what you think it is.   The world has changed and the traditional rewards offered to people may not get the job done.  And the research  shows that such rewards may actually retard performance.

If we as a society what to advance and achieve great things, we need to start questioning perceived truths.

Enjoy the talk and pick up a copy of Pink’s book.