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

Career Reinvention May Save Your Health and Life

Is Your Job Killing You?

I always enjoy Jeffrey Pfeffer’s books, (Power, Leadership B.S.), for the research-backed approach he takes with his topics. In his latest book, Dying for a Paycheck, Pfeffer offers a compelling case for what many of us sense: our work is making us ill. Or, more specifically, the management behaviors and practices in many environments are so toxic that survival places demands on us that take a significant toll, physically and emotionally.

Of course, the question is what can you do about the situation?

Career Reinvention

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times: For much of the past year, my coaching practice has been weighted heavily on what I describe as career reinvention. Clients have been seeking me out for help in moving beyond their current roles, jobs and toxic environments. (I contrast career reinvention with a job change, where an individual changes organizations in a like-kind role.)

It turns out, based on the number of individuals attending my webinar (replay) on career reinvention, there’s a lot of us quietly contemplating and even plotting an escape.

Sure, one hopes that time and enlightenment will reverse the situation characterized by Pfeffer, however, if...

Could Ditching Rectangular Desks Improve Oppressive Open-Plan Offices?

Open-plan offices are zapping our productivity. In the quest to improve them, designers have fiddled with various solutions ranging from privacy booths to high-back chairs and sound-muffling partitions. But design industry veteran Karen John thinks that we’ve been neglecting one fundamental element: the desk.

John, who founded an office furniture startup called Heartwork, has worked with companies such as Google, Airbnb, and WeWork to create effective workspaces for various work scenarios. Her newest product line, called Square, challenges the notion that a desk needs to be a rectangular plane.



Comprised of trapezoidal-shaped surfaces that fit together to form a square, the units can be snapped together in various configurations—from shared desks to team pods and even ping-pong tables. When used as a workstation, a bank of Square desks create angles that give a sense of privacy, especially when paired with the latch-on partition screens that come with the units.

“It’s nice not to have to to sit across from someone and have the ability not to stare at them all day,” says John, who used to lead product development for the modern furniture retailer Design Within Reach.

Game table too.


Working with architect Andrea...

The Future of Civic Engagement

From its earliest days, American democracy has been rooted in vigorous civic engagement. More recently, there have been fears that increasing distrust in institutions will lead to large scale disengagement in civic life. However, some optimistic observers are hopeful that the millennial generation will create new momentum for civic involvement.  But what will that involvement look like? And importantly, what are the implications for the perceived legitimacy of government action in society?

According to a new book, New Power, authors Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms observe that “Participation needs to be much more than a website that allows you to point out occasional potholes in the street; it need to be a constant and compelling experience that keeps people working together on the things that matter.” In their view, “The goal of new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.”

The IBM Center, as part of its 20th anniversary activities this year, is looking 20 years ahead. It recently held the third in a series of “Envision Government in 2040” sessions, with participants focusing on the role of citizens in government (the first session focused on the future of work in the public sector; the second assessed...

Four Reasons Why Hiring Veterans Makes Good Business Sense

With nearly 1.3 million active-duty troops, and another 865,000 in armed forces reserves, the United States boasts one the largest military forces on the planet. That fighting force, however, makes up less than 0.5 percent of the American population.

Because of that, many Americans outside of the military have little exposure to the skills and experiences veterans acquire during their years of service, says Col. Dan Friend, the current Army Chief of Staff Senior Fellow at the Kellogg School of Management. And that lack of exposure can become a challenge as veterans look to enter the workforce after their military service, and as prospective employers look to hire talent.

The challenge is awareness, since much of the population is not routinely exposed to the military, Friend says. Because of this gap between the military and the citizens they serve, common perceptions of military service are often distorted—especially when those perceptions are often formed through portrayals of service members in movies or on the news.

Friend wants to do his part to change such misconceptions, because in his view, service members and veterans could benefit—but so could organizations that may be underutilizing a skilled and loyal...

All Agencies Can Now Buy Innovative Tech at Shark-Tank Speed

Have you been watching enviously as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), the Homeland Security Department’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program and various other exceptional entities have been able to snap up new technological wonders from Silicon Valley and elsewhere? Using what’s known as “other transaction agreements,” a blessed few government agencies have been able to circumvent onerous acquisition rules to quickly purchase innovative technologies.

Well, envy no longer.

The General Services Administration’s new AAS Express Program just opened fast-buying capability to all agencies. Express offers high-speed, streamlined source-selection for innovative commercial items and processes—for a fee, of course. But the opportunity—known as a commercial solutions opening, or CSO—to lay hands on fast-evolving, mission-critical new tech and processes in as little as three months or less may be well worth the money. Especially if your department or agency doesn’t already have OT authority.

In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, enacted Dec. 23, 2016, legislators permitted Defense, Homeland Security and GSA to test CSOs as a new way of making the federal market at least tolerable, if not inviting, for advanced technology companies and entrepreneurs. GSA seized the opening to offer the option governmentwide...