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

Why Introverts Might Actually Be Better Networkers

“I’m an introvert,” someone inevitably tells me when I speak about building a professional network. “Networking is just not for me.” These people assume networking belongs solely in the domain of the extroverts.

Presumably, extroverts are more excited by going to mixers and events and meeting new people. But recent research from the world of network science suggests that introverts might actually be the better networkers.

To understand why, we first have to debunk a common misconception about introverts: They don’t hate people. They just prefer to interact with them differently than extroverts do. The series of small chit-chat conversations that are so common at networking events might, for an introvert, be draining. Instead, introverts crave deep and meaningful conversations. And this preference can actually be an advantage when it comes to networking. 

Research from the domain of network science, psychology, and other social sciences implies that we prefer relationships where there is more than one context for connecting with other people. We want to know more about them than we learn from superficial questions such as “who are you and what do you do?” We want to know more than their thoughts on the weather. We want...

Do Your Programs Still Fit?

From President Ronald Reagan’s Grace Commission to President Bill Clinton’s National Performance Review to various presidents’ management agendas, administrations for decades have been trying to reform government programs. Add to those endeavors the efforts of multiple congressional oversight committees, the Government Accountability Office, agency inspectors general and a host of performance officers, councils and commissions, and you will conclude the federal government has more oversight than any entity on Earth. Yet proper program alignment, along with efficiency and effectiveness, remain elusive.

While all the initiatives and oversight have contributed to an environment of reform, they have yet to create a culture of reform, or a structured process by which reform may be achieved. An efficiency and effectiveness approach for each program can be defined, but before government can begin to address that, it must first determine program fit: Is the program a proper function for the federal government and should it continue to exist in its current form? To assess fit, officials must identify and review, in an unbiased way, each program in their inventory to determine its efficacy.

Every year, the chief operating officer of each agency should schedule and review a selected number of programs to...

Are People Who Don't Use Facebook More Productive?

Quitting Facebook (or at least, wanting to quit Facebook) is all the rage these days. We asked a panel of experts in networking, productivity, and workplace communication what you could give up, or gain, when you do.

Dr. Ben Waber, CEO and co-founder of Humanyze, a people analytics company that measures communication patterns

“In general, there’s no hard data showing that people who are on Facebook are more or less productive. There is an argument to be made, however, that some Facebook use at work is associated with higher performance: in one study Gloria Mark of UC Irvine showed that Facebook use at work is associated with a more positive mood at the end of the workday.

On the flip side, the same research group showed that interruptions increases stress, which in the long term has negative implications for turnover and performance. As with most things, moderation appears to be the greatest virtue.”

Kelly Hoey, Author of Build Your Dream Network

“For me, the most productive thing about Facebook has always been birthday reminders. The annoying, time-consuming task of transferring birthdates of friends and family to my personal calendar (or another app) might be the prime reason I haven...

A New Theory Linking Sleep and Creativity

In 1920, the night before Easter Sunday, Otto Loewi woke up, seemingly possessed of an important idea. He wrote it down on a piece of paper and promptly returned to sleep. When he reawakened, he found that his scribbles were illegible. But fortunately, the next night, the idea returned. It was the design of a simple experiment that eventually proved something Loewi had long hypothesized: Nerve cells communicate by exchanging chemicals, or neurotransmitters. The confirmation of that idea earned him a Nobel Prize in medicine in 1936.

Almost a century later after Loewi’s fateful snoozes, many experiments have shown that sleep promotes creative problem-solving. Now, Penny Lewis from Cardiff University and two of her colleagues have collated and combined those discoveries into a new theory that explains why sleep and creativity are linked. Specifically, their idea explains how the two main phases of sleep—REM and non-REM—work together to help us find unrecognized links between what we already know, and discover out-of-the-box solutions to vexing problems.

As you start to fall asleep, you enter non-REM sleep. That includes a light phase that takes up most of the night, and a period of much heavier slumber called slow-wave sleep...

This 5-Minute Thought Exercise Will Help You Define Your Purpose

Over the course of a lifetime, we spend an average of 92,000 hours at work. A growing body of research suggests that it’s better for both us and our employers if we’re working on something that fulfills us.

There’s evidence that purpose-driven companies outperform the market, and studies show that people with a sense of meaning have a 15% lower risk of death, regardless of age. Other studies show that purpose-driven employees are more likely to be high performers and have higher levels of fulfillment in their work.

So, what can you do to bring more meaning to your work?

In our Power of Purpose class, we use the purpose Mad Libs activity (below) to get people thinking about where they find the most meaning in their lives and work, where they’re currently having an impact, and where they want to have future impact. This activity can help you tap into these meaningful moments to start building out a personal and professional purpose statement.

To get started, grab a pen and paper and capture your answers in a few sentences or through simple sketches.

Step 1: Look for Passion

When have you felt a sense...