Don Kettl: How To Make Performance Management Matter
At the afternoon session of day 1 at the Socrata Customer Summit, Beth Blauer, Director of GovStat at Socrata interviewed Don Kettl, professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and nonresident senior fellow at the Volcker Alliance and at the Brookings Institution (click here for full bio) about performance management.
How do you effectuate culture change in government?
I think, too often, problems happen in the “in between.” They don’t happen at the very top of government and they don’t happen at the bottom. To change government, don’t say “we are going to change this culture” or “we are going to increase measurement.” The key is to find a problem people agree must be solved and to focus attention on how to solve it, and then create goals and measurements to be sure that progress is being made. The problem has to be the driver of culture change, not the information.
Can this happen without that executive sponsorship?
Leadership is essential. However, leaders can announce all kinds of things, but leaders change. So we need to focus on what the problem is and why it matters, and get support for solving it, whether leadership does or not.
How does citizen engagement work?
There has to be a transaction between citizens and government. Can you imagine one problem that matters that any one organization can control? Of course not.
Solutions are multifaceted and need many people and agencies working on it. There must be a multi-organizational response, a problem defined by data, and the leveraging of that data determine if you’re getting to the solution.
How do you create performance management systems that are lasting and sustainable?
This an issue that no top level executive can ignore. The problems governments face require performance management and a multi-organizational approach to drive them.
What matters, if I’m government, is how well I interact with you to solve problems for you and, importantly, how we create that conversation. The language of that engagement is performance.
You might, as a new administrator want to try new things and, in turn, learn more. It’s not realistic for a new administrator to adopt everything his predecessor did. But it is possible to make that administrator understand that systems need to be in place to solve problems. The problem doesn’t go away with a new administration.