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The Future of Agile Government

July 20, 2024

By: G. Edward DeSeve

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In this report, Ed DeSeve builds on his prior work as leader for the Agile Government Center (AGC) to expand how agile principles can apply to the development and implementation of government policies, regulations, and programs. The author introduces the “Integrated Agile Framework for Action”, to guide government leaders and stakeholders in implementing agile strategies in their work to provide services to the public in a way that fosters public trust. DeSeve concludes with multiple recommendations for government leaders and agile innovators, including:

  • Agile leaders at all levels need an agile mindset. This means a willingness to try new ideas and processes to achieve better results.
  • Government needs intentional leadership development strategies. Equipping leaders at all levels via a common approach to agile principles drives successful transformation.
  • Integration is critical to execution. The elements described in the framework are designed to work together.
  • Leaders at all levels need to analyze and understand trust in and across their organization. Trust is key for populations including employees, the public, and partners.
  • Agile government must begin with understanding customers. Analyzing the customer experience and journey starts with understanding who the customers are, how their journey with the organization flows, what constitutes “defining moments” in their experience, and continuous monitoring of customer views.
  • Public values must be respected and the public must be engaged. These values include a focus on openness, integrity, and fairness, which can improve overall trust
  • Networks should form the default development and implementation pathway wherever possible. Collaborative networks can be internal, external, international, or some combination of these, and should serve as a force multiplier for mission execution.
  • Cross-functional teams should drive integrated solutions to problems. Cross-functional teams bring more perspectives and encourage diversity of thought in creating and executing new solutions, greatly enhancing the chances for success.
  • Appropriate speed and persistent iteration will enable the organization to shape and reshape successful approaches. Setting aggressive deadlines to accomplish work and demonstrate continual achievement builds internal and external support.
  • Simultaneous execution of agile government actions is required. Agile government is not a sequential process, but rather an integrated series of actions designed to increase organizational competence while respecting public values.

The report builds on the considerable body of work released through the AGC since its creation three years ago. The AGC serves as the hub of a network that brings together governments, nonprofits, foundations, academic institutions, and private sector partners to assist in developing and disseminating agile government principles and case studies of agile policies and programs. This global network provides support for those who want to adopt and implement agile principles to provide public goods and services that fully meet customer needs and build public trust, and to identify cases of effective agile government in practice. DeSeve outlines many such cases in this new report.

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