Advice for the New Governor of Virginia

Posted: January 17, 2010 by bshockle in Editorial/Commentary
Tags: ,

by Bobby Shockley

Top 10 Pieces of Advice

1. Provide clarity of mission, direction and information from the top.

  • This will help to minimize the “policy-administration gap.” The actions of administrators should be guided by your vision of what should and should not be done, in order to carry out a policy directive.

2. Explain financial, commercial and strategic issues.

  • Everyone wants something from government and there just are not enough resources available to satisfy all. It is imperative that you explain how “resource constraints” are impacting your decisions to do what is in the best interest of the commonwealth and provide a cohesive strategy for increasing revenues. Remember, most of the decisions made within a bureaucracy are “Pareto optimal,” meaning what benefits one will hurt another.

3. Develop a shared sense of mission, vision and collective goals.

  • When subordinates experience a “buy-in,” their actions are less likely to be in contrast to those sitting atop the organization. Thus, it diminishes the possibility of the administration experiencing “Goal Diversity.” You want everyone moving in the same direction and reading from the same playbook.

4. Ensure that communications flow unhindered throughout the organization.

  • Distortions of information can cause rifts within the organizational structure and hinder the accomplishment of operational goals. The overarching endeavor is to limit “opportunism.”

5. Do not do nothing, when you can do something.

  • Many problems faced by administrators fall within the realm of “overdetermination.” Although many conditions need to be realized before the entire problem can be solved, do not allow the absence of each and every condition serve as impetus for inaction.

6. Allow people to do their jobs.

  • Do not micromanage. By not allowing those you have placed in key positions to do what it is they do best, you can create a system of “trained incapacity,” which precludes thinking “outside the box.” Ultimately, micromanagement can create inefficiencies instead of attempting to eliminate them.

7.  Create interagency teams to deal with complex problems.

  • Because most problems are overdetermined, and there are limits to individual intellectual ability, you need to involve varying perspectives when seeking to find workable solutions to complex issues.

8. Be prepared to leverage your assets and resources when necessary to bring about change.

  • Understanding that you may not get everything you want, it would be wise to note that bargaining will have to serve as your watchword. To get something you really want, you must be prepared to put it all on the line. Always ask the question “If I give in on X, will that bring forth the concession on Y that I’ve been seeking.”

9. Privatization is not always best.

  • Many leaders believe that the market place can serve as the panacea for the ills of government. It is the market place that will wring out inefficiencies in government operations. In seeking to better understand the “institutional of labor,” you need to take into account that although some things can be privatized, it is not the “one best way” to accomplish all tasks.

10. Trust yourself.

  • You have not made it this far by doubting your abilities or instincts so do not begin now. The empirical knowledge that you have gleaned through the various positions you have held can serve you well.
  1. Clear&PresentDanger says:

    Hi D., your site looks good!

    Some of our best USAR teams were told yesterday or today by UN/FEMA to stand down. Some had been activated on Wed and Thurs of last week.

    All that to say – I am rethinking my position on your suggestion that the US mil have USAR capability.

    Apologies for the OT post, and take care!

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