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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Beat Insomnia and Boost Your Productivity With This 5-Minute Ritual

We have a conflicted relationship with to-do lists. Though inanimate, they nonetheless come to life as micro-managers in some part of the mind, and living by them can feel like training your brain to think small (and dull) instead of expansively—to remember your grocery list instead of that lovely opening line from the novel you’re reading. But, psychologists say, the to-do list can allow you to offload your worries, too.

That theory, and how it might help someone ease into sleep, was tested in a new study from researchers at Baylor University. Fifty-seven students were randomly assigned to write a to-do list looking ahead at the next few days of their week, or write a completed task list chronicling the last few days, which sounds like an especially boring form of keeping a diary. Those in the first group fell asleep significantly faster than those in the second, according to the study, which was just published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Importantly, the results also suggested that if you move your to-do list writing ritual to the late evening, you should get into the weeds with it, too: In the experiment, the more specific the students were...

How A Chief Customer Experience Officer Could Transform Government

Twenty years ago, a Chief Customer Experience Officer was rare, unheard-of and easily dismissed. Now the position is indispensable. With breakthroughs in technology and increasing digitalization of services, a CCXO has become a key component in organizations interested in successfully managing citizen experiences. Yet most government agencies do not have someone focused on making it easier for taxpayers to access the information and services they need. To catch up, government agencies and departments should hire CCXOs and empower them to work with other chief executives to create better digital experiences for citizens.

Private Sector Lessons

In the private sector, a CCXO designs experiences that customers have with the company or brand. While their responsibilities may vary from one organization to the next, the vision remains the same: successful CCXOs align the leadership across a company on customer values, priorities and goals. They serve as the voice of the customer and as agents of change who work across departments to prioritize initiatives that reduce any pain points the customers encounter.  

CXOs across the sports, tech, healthcare and music industries lead interdepartmental collaboration to understand and shape a full ecosystem of digital experiences by streamlining operations and leading strategy for every customer...

Don’t Try to Work Through the Flu of 2018

"No one wants me here.”

This cry for reassurance was moaned by a colleague the other day, and I wish I could say I responded generously. I could have said, “It’s not you, it’s whatever illness is behind those thunderous coughs.” I could have urged him to look after himself, not to worry about us. But I selfishly kept my head down, waiting out the awkward silence.

Also, I was afraid of spray.

Because let’s get real about the flu of 2018, which has already been deadly  and has led to higher rates of hospitalization this year by mid-January versus other years. The difference is that the season has brought more cases of the H3N2 strain of the virus, or influenza A, which was also responsible for a brutal flu season in 2014 and 2015. Public health advocates are urging schools and workplaces to take the flu seriously and to keep it contained as much as possible, which means sick employees should stay home when symptoms develops.

But there are always etiquette questions and subtle pressures around taking time off to deal with illness. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions.

How should I decide when to...

How to Build Credibility as a Manager

Building credibility is much like your fitness program—focus on the right activities at the right time and with the right frequency, and you grow stronger, faster, and more resilient.

Here are 16 behaviors to help build credibility as a manager:

  1. Respect is never optional. Dispense it in every encounter.
  2. Operate with a strong foundation that includes a clear role definition and even clearer leadership values.
  3. Show your coworkers you care about them as individuals.
  4. Dispense all glory to them.
  5. Listen more than you talk.
  6. When you talk, provide context for the work.
  7. When you talk, say what you mean and mean what you say.
  8. Most talk should be in the form of questions, not orders.
  9. Vow to never micro-manage.
  10. See the prior point—commitment is commitment.
  11. Set clear expectations and constantly reinforce accountability.
  12. See the prior point—accountability starts with you.
  13. Provide timely feedback on performance and behavior.
  14. Use feed-forward to coach for the future.
  15. See the point on respect. Supporting a person’s professional development is a high form of showing your respect.
  16. When you make a mistake, first admit it and then fix it.

The bottom line: There’s no such thing as too much credibility. Keep...

Government Would Function Better if IGs and Congress Worked Together

Since fiscal 2015, the federal government’s 73 inspectors general have identified $87 billion in potential savings that could be realized if agencies eliminated questionable expenditures and made more efficient use of federal funds.

While agencies have adopted many of these findings and addressed issues of waste, fraud and abuse revealed in IG audits and investigations, thousands of recommendations issued every year are not implemented.

The Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general, for example, is tracking more than 1,200 open recommendations. As of May 2017, the HHS IG’s open recommendations included reducing tens of millions of dollars in Medicaid and home health care fraud; protecting Medicare beneficiaries from opioid addiction that cost the Part D drug program in excess of $4 billion in 2015; and clamping down on millions of dollars in improper payments to a child care and development fund.

To have maximum impact, inspectors general must rely on the agencies accepting and acting on their findings—not always an easy task—or on Congress applying pressure to ensure that reforms are implemented.

If Congress and the IG community can find ways to improve communication and work more collaboratively, government will function more efficiently, and...