As we all know the COVID-19 outbreak continues to cause massive disruption to the way people live and work – including how governments operate. Agencies around the globe have been forced to change how and where services are delivered. Rules and regulations have been modified at lightning speed to accommodate the urgent situation. Many employees have transitioned to remote work.
You’ve probably read numerous pieces about how government should go back and learn from these experiences. I’m going to push a step further: Don’t go back. Don’t return to all offices. Don’t resume all in-person appointments. Don’t devote focus to restoring the status quo. Instead, be purposeful about defining new norms and new operating models.
Among other things, the COVID-19 emergency has shown that collaboration between government functions IS possible; that government workers don’t have to be in a government building to meet the mission; and that policies enacted before the advent of the smartphone can and should be rewritten.
The opportunity to codify these and other examples of progress is there for the taking. Savvy public leaders recognize that this pandemic is not going to be a one-time, temporary emergency. It is poised to be an ongoing global crisis – compounding significant challenges both to public health and the public coffers.
Local, state/provincial and national leaders should quickly develop entirely new organizational and operational models. As we work to outmaneuver the uncertainty, assumptions need to be challenged, policies tested against today’s fiscal and technical realities. Rather than spending time trying to preserve siloes, demand breakthrough collaborations that get the job done in the most effective and cost-efficient way possible.
There is no question that what has happened is a tragedy, with millions of people suffering dire medical and economic impacts from COVID-19. We don’t yet know how and when communities will safely reopen or economies will recover. Nor do we know if and to what extent the crisis may reignite in the Fall. What we do know is that “government as usual” is not an option. We won’t be able to meet the challenges of the pandemic and post-pandemic world with yesterday’s designs. In making their way to the other side, government leaders have a responsibility to operate our public enterprises in a different way to drive a different result.
We are already engaging in these conversations with government leaders. How can we help your jurisdiction forge a better future? Please get in touch via LinkedIn or Twitter.
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