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

People Who Use Firefox or Chrome Are Better Employees

There was a time when the browser you used was nothing more than a matter of taste or subtle self-expression. Safari was for Apple purists, Chrome for the fleet of foot, Firefox for the universally compatible, and Internet Explorer for the masochistic. But in the end, they all ended up doing more or less the same thing, just with marginally different visual styles and at marginally different speeds.

But in the world of Big Data, everything means something. Cornerstone OnDemand, a company that sells software that helps employers recruit and retain workers, analyzed data on about 50,000 people who took its 45-minute online job assessment (which is like a thorough personality test) and then were successfully hired at a firm using its software. These candidates ended up working customer-service and sales jobs for companies in industries such as telecommunications, retail, and hospitality.

Cornerstone’s researchers found that people who took the test on a non-default browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, ended up staying at their jobs about 15 percent longer than those who stuck with Safari or Internet Explorer. They performed better on the job as well. (These statistics were roughly the same for both Mac and PC ...

The Casual Workplace is Making Sexual Harassment Harder to Identify

A lewd text in the middle of the night, disturbing comments made in the waning hours of some work event, offhand jokes about sexual escapades in company-wide emails—decades after the Mad Men era of patriarchal office etiquette, data suggests our more casual workplace may be making it difficult for some employees to identify and protect themselves against gendered harassment.

Take, for example, Ellen Pao’s closely followed lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao’s lawsuit demonstrates how subtle prejudicial slights and double standards can lead to a hostile workplace, especially when said workplace does not have an HR process. The charges made against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers are prosaic: Pao was excluded from a company ski trip because she was a woman, and told she needed to speak up more only to be subsequently told she was intimidating and too pushy. Pao’s case demonstrates that micro-iniquities—so common in today’s workplace—are hard to define and even harder to prove in the courtroom, but it also hints at a darker workplace problem.

poll featured in Cosmopolitan is the latest example of this troubling trend, highlighting the extent to which employees—and presumably ...

How to Turn Government Debt into an Asset

Debt has long been a persistent reality for state, local and federal government agencies. Uncollected U.S. outstanding receivables now stand at an estimated $200 billion, and a significant portion of these accounts are as old as 12 years. In the meantime, budget gaps continue to expand by the billions as the demand on government services grows and revenues remain flat. How are cash-strapped government agencies addressing this mounting debt? By taking a step back to examine their accounts receivables and optimizing their current debt-collection process while simultaneously assessing how their portfolio might generate a new infusion of revenue.

Now more than ever, agencies are overhauling their regular cycle of collection for a more holistic, end-to-end approach that maximizes yields, stems the generation of future debt and creates budget certainty with repeatable future accounts receivables performance. According to a May 2014 research survey of 133 state and local government officials conducted by the Governing Institute, 45 percent of respondents said they consider debt as something that can be turned into an asset.

Many agencies are unsure and unaware of how to implement the most effective collection strategies to meet key objectives. Fortunately, a revenue-assurance strategy can fuel interest by establishing ...

Will Smart Robots Take Your Job?

Technology is replacing real jobs and will continue to do so at a record pace over the next couple of decades. We’re accustomed to seeing this kind of thing in certain industries such as manufacturing, health care and banking. But now technology will be coming for white-collar jobs, too.

Technology will be replacing more jobs at an ever-increasing pace, particularly with this next round of technology, which includes artificial intelligence. AI is the game changer. It is the biggest discovery since fire. It effectively threatens to wipe out a whole new group of jobs, including white collar positions.

These assertions are backed up by a recent University of Oxford study by researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne. They found that over the next 10 to 20 years, 66 percent of U.S. employees have a medium-to-high risk of being displaced by smart robots and machines powered by artificial intelligence.

So, what can you do to keep your job?

When the AI tech tsunami hits, the only jobs that will be safe are the ones that require a human element. The things that humans will be able to do better than robots is creative, innovative and complex critical thinking ...

What Does It Really Take to Get Things Done?

A recent survey of 400 global company CEOs found that executing their firm’s strategy heads their list of challenges. Related studies show two-thirds to three-quarters of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies. What these studies found sounds very familiar to what seems to occur in government, as well.

I’ve been writing about the importance of cross-functional collaboration for years—within an agency, across agencies, across levels of government. But a recent Harvard Business Review article on strategy execution finally puts a spotlight on the criticality of cross-functional collaboration in getting things done. Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull surveyed 7,600 managers in 262 companies in 30 different industries over the past five years on how they execute their organizations’ strategies. By comparing what managers and leaders believe drives strategy in their companies vs. what they actually did during their workday, these researchers identified a series of myths, such as: Successful execution is driven by ensuring alignment with goals.

The Belief

Before they took the survey, managers were asked what they believed contributed the most to successful strategy execution. Their responses were consistent: “The steps typically consist of translating strategy into objectives, cascading those objectives down ...