The year 2016 had more than it’s share of surprises, up to and including the November presidential election. After 8 years of a Democrat in the White House, there will be a new tenant, President-Elect Donald Trump. And both the House and Senate will be under Republican control. Whether you welcome or fear change, there is going to be some for sure. While I’m on vacation this week some guest columnists will piloting the Federal Report. Leading off is long-time government-watcher Steve Hellem, who chose the subject “Finding New Paths to Value and Success in a New Administration.” All yours, Steve:
“I have a good friend who often told me that when cornered a person, or an organization, only has two options, you either fight or rollover. Those are a couple of approaches, but they are not the only options, when faced with the both the challenges and opportunities that may be presented by the incoming administration.
“One other piece of counsel that I always try to give myself is, things are rarely as good or as bad as they first appear.
“With those two bits of background, I have been thinking about what must be going through the minds of many federal government employees with regard to what will happen to them and their entities, as of, and after noon on Jan. 20, 2017.
“I asked a very senior agency executive, whose insights I have always respected and valued, what he thought was going through the minds of many in his agency, post the election, and he outlined at least three different thoughts. The young people, he said, are scared and don’t know what to expect. The older professionals, who have been through other administration changes, recognize that they will just work with and probably through it. And then there are those who just don’t have any clue as to what may or may not happen, so they are just pretty much living day to day, and wondering about their internal profiles.
“Having never been a long-term federal government employee, I won’t and can’t put myself in their shoes, but I can suggest that, just as in business, collaboration, creative thought, even wild ideas, in pursuit of innovation and change are the future for all entities that are working to provide value to their ‘customers’ at all levels.
“I do a lot of work in the environmental and, yes, even that discounted, by some, world of sustainability. I know that there are at least two traditional ways to make change happen and usually the talk is in terms of carrots and sticks. Those two options are often looked at as absolutes. But I would suggest there is another path to constructive change, it is collaboration, listening to the opinions of others, respecting their opinion, developing relationships and finding newer value propositions.
“For example, I have often thought that the fundamental messages of climate change have been set up by some as a divider of thought, politics and relationships. One can argue science or lack of science as the reason to do or not do certain things. But businesses are leading today because they also know that energy efficiency and new technologies are often environmentally and economically sound ways to do business for now and in the future. Those companies also recognize their global social responsibility to their employees, their stockholders and the communities around the world where they do business.
“So, while I am sure there is apprehension and maybe even some, below the surface, exhilaration within the federal community about what may be coming in the next few months and years, my thought is to focus on vision and role of the federal government, and the real people that they serve and develop a collaborative mindset that says progress can be achieved in creative, possibly non-traditional ways, so we can start talking about a new category beyond carrots and sticks, let’s call it chocolate.” — Steve Hellem