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Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

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The Road to Agile Government: Driving Change to Achieve Success

November 10, 2020

November 10, 2020

By Ed DeSeve, Coordinator of the Agile Government Center and Academy Fellow

Why agile? Today, governments around the world are dealing with the effects and after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, major social unrest ranging from Black Lives Matter to ending repression in Hong Kong, and the impacts of weather-related disasters and climate change.

Timely and effective response to these urgent issues are hampered by the use of traditional processes that employ bureaucratic hierarchy, focus on command and control, and do not involve the public in solving problems.

Addressing these and other major challenges requires fast, flexible, inclusive, mission-centric responses that involve networks of government, not hierarchies. “Agile government” provides a pathway to drive such change. Agile is not a new term—for two decades it has helped revolutionize software development—but its tenets can be applied much more broadly as a new way of thinking and acting that will require significant reforms in how government is managed. The principles and models that underlie agile government can be adapted to manage projects, larger programs, and major enterprises. Following the “Road to Agile Government” will strengthen capacity for providing more effective and responsive government to the people. This approach comprehensively addresses failures in implementing government programs, and the deficit of public trust that exists.

Given today’s challenges, governments can find many compelling reasons for transitioning to an agile environment. These include:

  • Bringing together, and moving forward, all parts of an organization or network in a crisis
  • Helping to build trust in government by improving outcomes for the public and increasing customer satisfaction
  • Reducing the complexity and increasing the efficiency of government

To begin the agile journey, this report first outlines strategic imperatives for agile government, especially its potential to address crises, improve outcomes from services, and thereby build trust. The report next defines agile government’s scope, and walks through the ten principles of agile government, with discussion and examples of how applying these principles leads to faster, more flexible, and higher quality government.

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