What’s wrong with our government anyway?
I’ve been a manager and a developer of organizations for much of my career. I’ve learned that all organizations share characteristics that can be predicted and managed for success, that is, to achieve the goals that the organization was created for. So why does the government of the United States appear to be so dysfunctional?
That appearance is misleading, because within the government, there are many highly successful organizations that achieve specific goals very effectively. Think Navy SEALS or Center for Disease Control. The dysfunction shows at the highest level, where a band of ideologues in Congress (stoked by right-wing money and media) believes that government cannot be effective, and they are determined to prove it. Hence we have the current situation, where much of the government is shut down, and the nation is on the verge of defaulting on its debtors and other financial obligations.
The current political crisis will subside eventually, perhaps after doing serious harm to some citizens, families, and businesses. In the future, the United States should head off existential crises about government by creating agreement on its fundamental purposes. Unfortunately that’s not likely to happen with the current political divide stoked by fear and hatred of “the other”.
I’ll be writng more about organizational behavior and managing for success, focusing on government as well as public-private partnership. Suffice to say that all large organizations, public and private, are liable to face existential crisis as they grow and the external environment changes around them. Focusing on fundamental goals and fostering a culture of innovation and reinvention is the only way to avoid the pitfall of large organizations like the federal government.