The U.S. Congress’ Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has created the United States Legislative Markup (USLM) to standardize the format for drafting, viewing, and publishing legislation.
Importantly, this standardization means that rule of law nations can help each other far more effectively. It means that –at long last– democratic values might be able to beat the trolls, out compete data mercenaries and diminish the information weaponization that is paralyzing democracy worldwide. This global democratic resilience will be especially important when we arrive at machine learning, artificial intelligence and algorithms. Will we build an auditable public good system? One that can visualize and help forecast implications of policy? One that is able to identify misinformation and financial conflicts of interest in the data supply chain? Or, will this new openness become yet another opportunity to commodify, privatize and capture democratic functions?
In my recent column for the PA Times, I wrote about how federal agencies can use the latest data visualization tools to fulfill the data, accountability, and transparency initiatives of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).
From the PMA: “Data, accountability, and transparency initiatives must provide the tools to deliver visibly better results to the public while improving accountability to taxpayers for sound fiscal stewardship and mission results.”
To aid in implementing the PMA, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched a challenge to stand up the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center. “Today’s digital economy has transformed how citizens interact with government. By leveraging technology and innovation, the GEAR Center will ensure our government connects to cutting-edge thinking and real-world solutions,” stated OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert.
Back when I worked at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), I had the idea of using the internal data assets of federal agencies to create digital twins of the agencies. The advantage of a digital twin is that we could test out policies on the twin before implementing the policy on the actual agency.
To get to digital twin stage, agencies first need to build their capacity to visualize data flows in their organization. According to Phil Simon, author of The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions, organizations go through four-levels of data visualizations. The first level is creating static visualizations of the organization’s small data sets. The organization then moves to the second level of creating interactive visualizations of small data sets. The third level is creating static visualizations of big data sets. The final and fourth level is creating interactions for the big data set visualizations.
Phil Simon recommends that organizations begin with small data sets to sharpen their skills with data visualization planning and tools. I’ve seen examples of this when several federal agencies used Tableau (a proprietary data visualization tool) to work with their small data sets from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). The FEVS is a survey of federal employees to gauge their perceptions on their leadership, engagement in their work, and their work climate. The ability to program interactivity into the FEVS data produced insights into the data that would not have been apparent in the static visualizations.
The FEVS is a relatively small data set compared to the big data sets that federal agencies possess. However, the tools for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing big data have advanced significantly in the last decade. Most of the modern tools require little training to produce sophisticated visualizations. As the federal agencies move to the cloud, it becomes easier to connect different data sets to build more comprehensive big data sets with novel visualizations. The more data sets connected and visualized, the more transparent the agency’s data assets and flows.
My third new
book will be about something I have been thinking about since the mid-80s but
is especially relevant today. When I entered college, my focus was on finding a
good job when I graduated. Many of my friends were going into computer
programming, law, and business. However, I started as a physics major, then
switched to speech communication while taking as many
philosophy classes as I could.
fourth semester, panic set in, and I was convinced by well-meaning relatives I
should go to law school. So, I double-majored in speech communication and
paralegal science. I was graduated in the winter of 1990 and, after two gap
years, I entered night law school in the fall of 1993. After a year of law
school, I realized I made a big mistake. A mistake I could have avoided if I
had paid closer attention to a book I read in 1991.
A. Potter published The Way of the Ronin: A Guide to Career Strategy in
1984. I came across it just after college. I had some instruction in college
about how to job hunt, including how to handle a lunch interview. My job hunt
after college graduation landed me a part-time job at the local convenience
store. My bachelor’s degree did gain me an extra five cents on the hourly wage.
See, education does pay.
the summer of 1991, I checked out every job hunting, resume writing, and
interviewing skills book that the Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library had. My
efforts paid off with an entry-level paralegal job in the Kentucky Natural
Resources and Environmental Protection Agency. I still had to keep the
convenience store job because my paralegal job barely paid my rent and
expenses. The traditional job hunt of resumes and cover letters was not working
that well for me.
Potter’s advice for job hunters was to drop the linear model of career
development. Instead of finding the perfect well-trod path of specialization,
Dr. Potter recommends developing a wide range of skills to navigate the
dynamically changing world of work better. She wrote about career ronins who “[g]uided by a personally defined code of adaptability, autonomy, and
excellence” (p. xi).
are employing career strategies grounded in a premise of rapid change. By
making lateral moves that follow their interests, they become generalists with
specialties.” (p. xi)
Potter was writing about the rapid changes in the workplace during the late 70s
and early 80s. But her strategies worked just as well in the early 90s as the
rise of the commercial Internet revolutionized careers. Reinvigorated by her
advice, I dropped out of law school, turned my hobby of computer programming
into a deep skill, and took a big career leap by going to Washington D.C. and
becoming a political consultant.
to now, I followed the career ronin strategy. I’ve had many jobs and have taken
a nonlinear path to where I am today. And, I feel more content and fulfilled in
my career journey.
age of smart machines, the gig economy, and digital disruption, how do you find
a job and build a career? My forthcoming book will give you the skills to
reinvent yourself and navigate the new world of work. To prepare for the future
job market, you need skills like:
the Career Landscape
for the Fulfilling Job – Or Creating the Fulfilling Job
the Resume: The Career Portfolio
the Business Model that is You
Your Own Personal Career University
What Motivates You and Establishing Your Unique Value
Resilience and Empowering Yourself
other career planning books, I will show you how to use the
Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop to refine your career planning skills
continually. The OODA Loop was created by a brilliant Air Force colonel who
revolutionized military strategy. The OODA Loop is perfect for building your
career strategy – especially in the new volatile, uncertain, complex, and
ambiguous job marketplace.
reason for writing my third book. Of the hundreds of career books I checked out
in the summer of 1991, only one helped inspire me. I hope my book will have the
same impact on today’s job hunters.
last two weeks were filled with excellent training. I spent two days in a good Association of
Training Development course on coaching. Then, it was four-and-a-half days
in Return on Investment (ROI) training.
If you are not familiar with ROI, it started as a way of evaluating the efficiency
and effectiveness of training programs. ROI has then been used to measure
coaching, leadership development programs, project management, and even
I first signed up for the course, I questioned how we could spend 36 hours
talking about ROI. ROI seemed straightforward and easy to grasp. It is but, there
are a lot of nuances to making ROI work in an organization. As I sat in the
course, I begin thinking of how ROI could be
used in agile project management. Especially the form of agile project
management I am creating to manage training programs.
Dr. Kerzner and Mr. Ward from the ILL released
a white paper on the future of project management. Kerzner and Ward see
project management as “the delivery system for sustainable business value.” In
their whitepaper, describe a five-level project management maturity model (PMMM)
based on project management metrics. There are several significant parallels
between ROI and the Kerzner and Ward PMMM. First, there is an alignment between
the project metrics and strategic business needs. Second, the consideration of
intangibles in delivering project benefits. And, third, the value from
innovations in the project management process.
sketched how to apply ROI to agile project management. In a future posting, I
will describe how to apply ROI to agile project management and my version of
agile learning program management.
A popular phrase which is most
annoying is “I can’t even.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “I can’t even”
means that the person is so overwhelmed with emotion they cannot function.
However, in the workplace, “I can’t even” often means that the person is
frustrated or unwilling to do a work task. Even with the best efforts to engage
employees, not enabling employees will lead to frustration.
Mark Royal and Tom Agnew, in their 2012 book The Enemy of Engagement, explain why enabling employees are just as
important as engaging employees. “Frustration is created for those employees
who are thwarted in their attempts to be successful despite their deep feelings
of commitment and engagement. In other words, frustration is brought on by a
belief in the organization and a desire to help it to be successful!” (p. 29)
Frustrated employees solve their problems in one of three ways. The
frustrated employee looks for a breakthrough or a solution to his or her frustrations. Or, the frustrated employee has a breakdown. Finally, a frustrated
employee may make a clean break from
the organization and its frustrations.
Royal and Agnew give the following
suggestions for building employee enablement:
Performance Management (p.
Specify clearly what employees need to accomplish.
Set challenging but attainable performance standards.
Provide ongoing feedback regarding progress relative to goals.
Authority and Empowerment (p.
Give employees the authority and decision-making responsibility needed
to do their jobs.
Allow employees to have input into the way their work is structured.
Encourage employees to come up with new and better ways of doing things.
Give employees the resources they need to do their jobs.
Ensure all information needed is readily available and up-to-date.
Maintain adequate staffing levels and review job designs and workloads
when the organization changes.
Training (p. 139)
Get new employees fully trained before
expecting full performance.
Ensure skills of current employees
keep up with changing job demands.
Provide opportunities for employees to expand their current skill sets.
Collaboration (p. 140)
Facilitate strong cooperation and teamwork within the unit.
Establish supportive relationships with other groups to which the unit
Promote effective sharing of resources and information across the organization.
Work, Structure, and Process (pp.
Structure and organize work processes within your unit to ensure
Coordinate with other units to clarify decision-making accountabilities
and enhance cross-unit operating effectiveness.
Continually seek new technologies and creative approaches to improve
overall internal effectiveness.
By following these 18 actions, you can have your employees saying, “I CAN even!” instead of “I CAN’T even!”