Making Government More Effective
Everyone wants government to be leaner, better organized, and more efficient. But what would that look like in practice? How would that happen?
Saybrook alumna Jamie Scibelli can tell you.
Jamie is the Project Manager for the “Lean government” initiative pioneered by Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries. They’re taking the processes of one of the world’s most effective companies – Toyota – and figuring out how they can be applied to make government better at every level.
“What we’ve discovered,” she says, “is that you have to train employees on how to solve problems at the lowest level. That's a real culture shock. Solving problems is typically something leaders see as their prerogative: they have been rewarded for their ability to react quickly. We have to teach them to encourage people to solve problems at every level in the organization. The leader’s job is more about coaching people, developing people: teaching them to improve the processes when they see an opportunity. It’s a whole different way of interacting with employees. But the payoff is that there's more ownership of the work, more connection with the customer, and a greater sense, on everybody's part, of how they fit in the strategic plan of the organization."
The project has been recognized by the governor, and is now a model for other departments. It’s also something that her study at Saybrook prepared her for.
“The LIOS MA in Leadership and Organization Development was an invaluable resource I could refer to for government transformation,” she said. “I’m constantly referring back to the academics of leadership and change management, the models we applied at LIOS are great for coaching leaders. What I learned connects so perfectly to what I do.”
That connection between scholarship and practice makes public service a dream job for Jamie. “This environment is really dynamic, it presents a level of challenge that's really unique for folks who choose it as a career,” she said. “I'm constantly being challenged by policy, process, and people issues, and that inspires my ongoing learning. LIOS promotes lifelong learners, and I can really accomplish that in this environment."