Successful public speaking often involves boiling ideas down to snappy aphorisms. Two succinct examples came through the microphones last Thursday at Government Executive's Excellence in Government conference.
Beth McGrath, deputy chief management officer at the Defense Department and a 24-year Pentagon veteran, addressed the need to modernize equipment and procedures in such areas as background checks for security clearances. She deployed the following aphorism: “Anything older than I am should be eliminated or at least revised.”
Jackson Nickerson, executive director of the Brookings Institution’s Executive Education project and a professor at Washington University at St. Louis, encouraged federal employees to avoid leaping to solutions for a given problem before first applying some disciplined thought to how the problem should be formulated. “A poor solution to the right problem,” he said, “is better than a great solution to the wrong problem.”