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

The One Thing That Will Always Get in the Way of Success

In his book The Happiness Industry, political economist Williams Davies writes that CEOs have now become “psychologists-in-chiefs,”managing the well-being of employees as much as business operations.

The term “psychologist-in-chief” may have been tongue-in-cheek, but the pace of innovation depends upon having more leaders who aren’t afraid to show emotion. By opening up about failures, leaders signal that it’s OK to struggle and to fail.

Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown quotes management consultant Peter Sheahan, who underlies this point, in her book Daring Greatly:

“The secret killer of innovation is shame. You can’t measure it, but it is there. Every time someone holds back on a new idea, fails to give their manager much needed feedback, and is afraid to speak up in front of a client you can be sure shame played a part. … If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams.”

In other words, shame is paralyzing and unproductive. It is the fear of disconnection. In Brown’s popular TED talk on shame, she points out that...

The Small Tweaks That ​Turn​ an OK Life Into a Great One

For those lucky enough to live in peaceful, plentiful societies, life should be great. But because we’re all human, and everything—every hardship, annoyance, and problem—is relative, we often go through days beset by feelings of sadness, worry, and stress.

We each have our own ways of bringing joy into life. The daily ritual that can’t be compromised; the tweak that makes a massive difference to how you feel. Here at Quartz, we crowdsourced ours, to bring you our guide to a day that’s much, much better than just OK.

(And here’s a promise: none of this advice will require you to move house, spend a lot of money, or wake up really early.)


  • Wake without an alarm

The dark of a January morning; a piercing wail that shocks you out of too-short sleep; the insistent, tyrannical “snooze” function. Every morning for most of my life I used an alarm to wake, thinking there was no other option. But then I met my partner, and found he rejected that moment of morning pain, brief and forgettable though it is. Training yourself to wake without an alarm isn’t difficult. It requires routine, and not...

Americans Don't Trust Anything

It’s been almost 20 years since David Bowie told us of he was afraid of Americans. Americans have used that time to grow increasingly afraid of their government, each other, and the rest of the world. By virtually every measure Americans have become less trusting, a situation which threatens to destabilize a wide variety of public and private institutions.

Here are a few institutions that Americans have lost trust in:

Within the United States, levels of trust can vary substantially for different social groups, but the overall trend is down for most institutions. Why does this matter? High levels of trust are correlated with many positive social outcomes including greater civic engagement,lower crime rates, and economic growth.

The most popular explanation for the decline is that trust falls as economic inequality rises (pdf), which it certainly has in the US. Of course, a more nuanced explanation would include all the ways in which public institutions are actually failing the public.

Whatever the explanation, clearly the answer is to listen to more Bowie.

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(Top image via Flickr user Rick McCharles)

Effective Governance Begins With an Effective Transition

In a previous column, we outlined recommendations for how the next administration can get a fast start with sure footing. From strengthening the President’s Management Council, to setting up a triage system for regulatory review, we identified actions that can help jump-start the next administration. However, there is one action that can have more impact than any other—early and effective transition planning.

But what should transition teams focus on? What do past transition efforts tell us about ways to improve? How can transition teams fashion a management agenda that supports the implementation of campaign commitments and improves the operations of government?

The IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service co-hosted a roundtable earlier this year to discuss how transition teams can operate most effectively in service of helping the next administration get a fast start on sure footing. The roundtable brought together current and former senior officials from administrations of both parties, as well as experts from academia and the private and non-profit sectors. Out of the discussion emerged actions that transition teams can take to increase the likelihood of a successful first year. 

The roundtable was the final in a series...

The Reasons Millennials Are Not Happy at Work

Young people today are hard on themselves. They have unrealistic expectations and are constantly comparing themselves to their peers on social media. Needless to say, they’re not very happy at work.

Despite their role in changing the very nature of work itself, millennials are operating within an outdated paradigm: that our careers peak in our late thirties and forties.

The Harvard Business Review offers a solution to cure this angst. Millennials should view their careers as spanning several decades, with the expectation of peaking in their sixties and seventies rather than thirties and forties. The rapid clip of innovation and pace of improvement in healthcare technology means that millennials will live longer than any generation in history, projected at 100+ years, according to the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging. That also means more time to evolve. A career that fits someone in their thirties and forties may not suit decades later.

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HBR cites the work of Stanford Center on Longevity’s Laura Carstensen, who gave a TED talk (“Older people are happier“) about how longer lifespans should improve life at all...