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

Love Coffee? You Should Probably Be Drinking Even More

Unless you’re drinking at least three cups of coffee a day, you should consider upping your java habit.

The US dietary guidelines advisory committee, which makes recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies, released a report this week that points to the health benefits and minimal risks of drinking three to five cups of coffee a day, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The report describes three to five cups (400 mg) as a “moderate range,” but if that’s more than you drink, you’re not alone: As Quartz reported last year, no country on earth drinks that much coffee per capita. The United States consumes about .93 cups per day per person, according to data from Euromonitor. The highest average intake was in the Netherlands, with 2.4 cups per person.

Of course, those numbers don’t account for people too young to drink coffee, and the panel discourages children and adolescents from drinking caffeinated beverage. But even looking at the US population that is over 18, per capita consumption is only 1.21 cups per person—still way below the committee’s suggested coffee intake.

Committee member ...

Why Good Managers Sometimes Make Bad Crisis Leaders

You are the manager of a big organization and you know your business. Each day, you make important decisions regarding money, policy and strategy. You’re in total control. Without warning, you are confronted with a major crisis: an earthquake, a fire or a reputational risk. Now you find yourself uncertain and unsure. You don’t know what to do and you realize that everybody is looking to you for guidance—and the decision you are about to make will directly affect the survival of your organization.

We see this all the time. Otherwise capable and competent managers appear to self-destruct during crisis, making bad decisions and stumbling in public. Consider the decision by BP to try to “spin” the oil spill crisis and the poor performance of CEO Tony Hayward, for example. 

Why do your decision-making skills seem to desert you during a time of crisis? To understand this, we need to take a closer look at what happens during a crisis.

We sometimes forget that, although we are 21st century people, many of our reactions to stress are based on reactions developed in more primitive times—the “fight or flight” response. This means that at the time ...

Escaping Groundhog Day: 5 Tips for Innovation

This month we observe Groundhog Day, and like the Bill Murray movie of the same name, many government and nonprofit leaders suffer from experiencing the same day, problem or meeting over and over. This cycle can lead to frustration, declining morale and ultimately burnout, and it can be hard to break. Leaders should strive for innovative and creative solutions not only to keep things interesting but also to explore new approaches or methods for achieving their work/mission

It can be tough to establish an environment of creativity and innovation. For those leaders experiencing Groundhog Day, here are five tips for innovation:

1. Change Your Location
As simple as it sounds, if you want to feel inspired sometimes the best solution is to get away from your desk or office. Go for a walk, work from home or a local coffee spot if possible. At Corner Alliance we invite clients and partners into our office space for white boarding sessions. Our clients get out of their normal offices and interact with a creative space where you can write on the walls, see sunlight streaming through the windows, and maybe chew a gumball.

2. Change the Way You Do Work
If ...

American Millennials Are Behind Most of Their Counterparts in Some Basic Skills

American millennials are lagging behind their counterparts in other wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit that researches, develops, and administers tests.

The ETS analyzed test results from the OECD’s adult skills assessment to determine how millennials—in this study, people aged 16-34—in member countries compare on reading, math and “problem solving in a technology-rich environment.”

Finnish millennials did best on numeracy: Only a third of them were less than proficient, compared to almost two thirds of Americans. Japan scored best in literacy, where the US was also near the bottom.

The problem-solving test, meanwhile, assessed skills like gleaning data from a spreadsheet or sorting emails. In that arena (data for France, Italy and Spain are missing), the US, once again, comes last. (It’s notable that the other English-speaking countries included in the comparison—Canada, Ireland, Australia, and the UK—also mostly performed worse than the OECD average.)

The researchers looked into numeracy in more detail, and found that not only do Americans have among the lowest average numeracy scores, they also score low in the 90th and 10th percentiles, meaning that both the best- and the worst-performing American ...

Developing Managers Versus Leaders

The distinction between management and leadership is important because they serve different roles in an organization—and they require different approaches in how they are developed.

The Government Accountability Office has released its updated list of high risk areas across the federal government. It flags for attention the mission-critical skills gap in jobs such as telecommunications, cybersecurity and acquisition. But there is also a growing gap in experienced managers and leaders as baby boomers head for retirement. What approaches are needed to ensure the next generation of managers and leaders are ready?

Understanding Distinctions in Roles

The distinctions between the roles of managers versus leaders have been described by the well-known business writer, Michael Watkins. In a Harvard Business Review article, he says the differences are predominantly shifts in perspective and responsibility from specialist to generalist, analyst to integrator, tactician to strategist, problem solver to agenda setter, or warrior to diplomat (that is, getting things done at all costs versus thinking about future battles and the need for alliances).

While Watkins’ list may imply that managers are lesser beings, I don’t think that is his intent. He is just trying to provide examples of the distinctions, which imply that ...