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The Manager's Musings Warren Master.

It's the culture, stupid.

Microsoft's ad in Fortune's May 15 issue could easily be titled "It's the culture, stupid." The ad asks readers if their business is people-ready. Of course, to get people ready, you need to ensure they have the latest tools and technology--software, stupid. But even Microsoft admits that the process of getting your team ready starts with organizational culture. That is, empowering employees to make frontline decisions, making it possible for them to collaborate across the organization, and giving them the resources to act. Is there more to organizational culture--the culture of bureaucracy, for example--than empowerment, collaboration, and resourcing? I suspect so, although I'm reminded of Peter Brock's definitional distinction between a bureaucrat and a non-bureaucrat in his 1995 book, The Empowered Manager. The former is someone who fails to take responsibility for what's happening. The latter simply gets it done.

Collaborative Bureaucracy

The summer issue has lots to say on these matters. But our theme this quarter is collaboration--particularly at the state and municipal level in the United States. The lead article by Van Johnston, Wendy Haynes, and Claire-Lauren Schulz demonstrates how federal, state, local, and private-sector entities have collaborated on transportation enhancements to the Southeast Corridor of Denver. Next, Pamela Ransom, Jane Mitchell, Norman Kee, Mary King-Maxey, Matt Brady, Kristen Wolf, Suzanne Rice, and Stephanie Denning contribute a four-part article on a statewide health and human services call center in Pennsylvania. Shifting back west, Susan Schmidt, John Morales, and Sheila Murphy relate how Arizona has used its staff and technology in the state's larger cities to increase services in resource-challenged smaller communities. Similarly, Jean Shepard and Nick Macchione lay out the redesign of mobile care arrangements that put collaborative technology to work for public health nurses in San Diego County.

Power to the People

Shifting to empowerment, Larry Hubbell and Scott Abbott reflect on their efforts to change the culture of a maximum-security prison in Wyoming--where Scott's the warden. In their reports on transformational management, Uros Pinteric continues his series on e-government in Slovenia, and Stefan Ungurean assesses the progress of municipal development in Romania. Along similar lines, Manuel Pedro Rodriguez Bolivar, David Ortiz Rodriguez, and Antonio M. Lopez Hernandez provide detailed case experience on how the Balanced Scorecard is being used to manage sports programs in Granada, Spain, underscoring the need to get people ready for performance measurement. Also with an eye on performance, Lisa McNary reports on how a quality action team in Columbus, Georgia, tackled an HR problem by flowcharting key processes and demonstrably improving service quality. Maintaining the spotlight on people, Bill Trahant adds his timely article on what federal agencies can learn from the private sector to make them an "employer of choice" for the next generation of civil servants. And Scott Derrick and Kate Hudson Walker weigh in on recruiting and retaining more young professionals in the public-sector workforce.

Odds and Ends

James Smith provides the second installment of his two-part series on budgeting for disasters at all levels of government--this time with an emphasis on solutions. In a shorter and less polemical version of her Stone lecture at the 2006 annual conference of the American Society for Public Administration, Irene Rubin urges public managers to help ensure the proper functioning of democratic institutions in this country. And Grimaldi closes with his reminiscences of bureaucratic ambiguity in his piece on the highs and lows of the career roller coaster.
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Author:Master, Warren
Publication:The Public Manager
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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