Message from Adjunct Faculty Member
Cambridge Graduate University

May 17, 2013

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak
Sulab International Social Service Organization
Mahavir Enclave, Palam-Dabri Road
New Delhi-110 045 (India)
Hello Dr. Pathak:

You may recall meeting me at your offices in New Delhi this past April as part of the visit with representatives of Cambridge Graduate University. This is a brief follow-up to that extremely enlightening session in India.
More specifically, please see the attached Open Letter to President Obama. This reflects an evolving effort here to build a much more focused transformational leadership direction in our United States Government with President Obama and his senior leadership across our entire federal government.

You will note my direct reference to our discussions with you and your 30+ year Social Reform Movement in India. My hope is that this letter will build a fire under President Obama and move our government to much higher levels of exceptional leadership and performance.
As possible, I would appreciate any and all comments, reactions, and feedback you would be wiling to offer in the coming days. Such thoughts would be extremely helpful as we pursue the continual improvement of our United States government operations at all levels.

You are welcome to contact me at the address below at any point moving forward. I would also hope to see you again in India at some point in the not too distant future.
Please come to the United States as well to visit as your most engaged globally based schedule allows.

May all of your efforts at Social Reform continue at an accelerated pace. It was a true honor to meet you in India.
Thanks.

Sincerely,
Dale F. Weeks, President
Global Leadership and Benchmarking Associates (GLBA)
& Adjunct Faculty Member
Cambridge Graduate University
3041 Shamrock North
Tallahassee, FL 32309 USA
Phone: 850-591-1076
E-Mail: dfwglba@gmail.com

GLOBAL LEADERSHIP AND BENCHMARKING ASSOCIATE S (GLBA)

LEADERSHIP AND THE MANAGEMENT OF GOVERNMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY:

CREAT ING ANOTHER “GOING TO THE MOON”

GLOBAL VISION FOR OUR NAT ION

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

DALE F. WEEKS

MAY 16, 2013

Dear President Obama:

Government organizations at all levels are faced today with tremendous challenges. A large percentage of the states face, or have faced, impending deficits. Cities and counties across the country are confronted with similar fiscal problems. Yet even as government managers and leaders are working to meet the mandates of providing public products and services, many have the grim task of reporting that their citizens will not get “more with less.” Widely publicized polls make clear that large numbers of citizens have lost faith in government’s ability to improve, let alone, achieve excellence.

Less widely known, are the remarkable efforts and achievements of many in government. Pockets of excellence exist at all levels, in many places. Our 25 year celebration of our Baldrige Performance Excellence Award process has included a select few government organizations. In addition, a number of State and Federal improvement initiatives are using the Lean Six Sigma method to drive process and results improvement.

Nevertheless, despite the good efforts and work done by many in government improvement, there is no coordinated movement, no singular voice to influence both citizens and government organizations. Can we do more? Can we do better together?

Our citizens across the world today deserve a QUANTUM LEAP in operational performance excellence in the coming years across all levels of government. The approaches and strategies being used today are not working on a broad scale – at the federal, state, and local levels.

A. The Management of Government – Our Current State of Affairs in the United States.

Let me be more direct. Based upon my involvement in both domestic USA and global benchmarking over the last decade or more, the current state of the landscape of the leadership and the management of government can be described as follows:

1. Limited Exceptional Performance Excellence Success Stories.

At all levels of government – city, county, state, and federal in the United States – only 5% have pursued or are pursuing performance excellence using a formal, structured, systematic management framework. There are most certainly case studies of extraordinary performance in government in selected jurisdictions across our country, many that go unreported by our mainstream media, such as the City of Coral Springs in Florida. In any event, when considered in the context of the estimated 9,000 government entities across our country, this is a very small minority of our possible national potential. We can and must do better.

2. Strategic 21st Century Systems Thinking is Lacking Leading to Uncertain Business Results.

Dr. Edwards Deming and many other well regarded performance excellence advisors from the last 50 years have said: “Manage the System, Not the People,” 85-90% of the problem is the system. Broad, strategic systems and business process leadership critical thinking is lacking in most of our federal agencies (the other 95% from above) which most often yields sub-optimal business results. Or, stated another way, the major organizational business model use in the management of government is the vertical hierarchy, not horizontal, business process management from the citizen or customer perspective.

Consequently, agency business results are frequently labeled as mediocrity “middle of the pack, just another agency” at best, or simply maintaining a status quo performance level that has existed for generations. This anachronistic, old, “command and control” management scenario includes many of our largest federal government agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury (IRS), and beyond.

In short, our federal government as a whole in Washington, D.C., has not stepped into the 21st Century of management using systems thinking. We need to expand our horizons and think much bigger.

As further proof, simply click on these federal agency links and selected articles below to assess current performance as externally reported. Ask yourself, Mr. President, if these results represent true global performance excellence as defined by a broad, structured, systems thinking, business process management framework, for all of our 15 executive branch of cabinet agencies and beyond.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/cabinet

http://goals.performance.gov/agency/plans

3. Most Senior Leaders Are Appointed or Elected Without Operational Excellence Background.

In general, with few exceptions, across all levels of government, most senior leaders at the executive level are appointed or elected without significant background, interest, or proven competencies in operational excellence management. In many cases, it is common for people to be promoted to leadership or manager roles because they were proficient in a stated technical arena as a maker or producer. This is NOT a predictor of a capacity to lead and manage PEOPLE. Or, said another way, professional credentials in how to actually manage large, diverse, and complex government organizations are not an integral part of our senior leader selection process. This has been demonstrated over many decades, given our current elections and political appointment process.

4. Our Congressional Oversight and Confirmation Process Prevents the Selection of the Best and the Brightest Senior Leadership.

Our congressional confirmation process for our most senior leaders of the executive branch of government is broke and needs drastic improvement and repair. Here is just one recent discussion:

http://billmoyers.com/content/slideshow-the-senates-brokenconfirmation-process/

In brief, impediments to the confirmation process are a major roadblock to ensuring we attract and retain the “best and the brightest” senior leadership in our federal government. Many highly regarded potential leaders with exceptional credentials in fact never apply – they simply go elsewhere. As a result, our agencies today operate for long periods without any guiding leadership from the top. This “automatic pilot” approach is unacceptable in our vast global context.

5. Human Capital is Underled, Un-energized, and Seeking Inspiration on a Broad Scale.

Many recent studies, covering both the public and private sectors have concluded, again, that most of our employees in our major institutions are “making it through each day” yet are under-led, un-energized, and seeking explicit inspiration toward a goal of high level performance improvement. Consider this recent poll”

http://www.gallup.com/poll/150383/majority-americanworkers-not-engaged-jobs.aspx

“Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. That leaves nearly one-third of American workers who are “engaged,” or involved in and enthusiastic about their work and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner. This trend remained relatively stable throughout 2011.”

In raw numbers, this survey concludes: 70% of us are “performing” well below our capacity and potential as individuals, with the obvious impact on the business results of our organizations in government or business. This is an alarming and stunning perspective for our country at this stage of the 21st century.

Moreover, consider the overflow, standing room only, crowd of 800+ government leaders and managers at the May 2013 Excellence in Government conference in Washington. They were desperate to hear ideas that would provide direction for innovation and improved results.

6. Public Administration Schools Lack Global Operational Management Focus.

Performance excellence, operational management, and global benchmarking are not an integral part of the masters and Ph.D. leadership development programs / curriculum of most major US Public Administration Schools (Harvard JFK, Syracuse Maxwell). Only a small percentage of most public administration programs globally have actually developed and used operational management tools at a high level of maturity. This frequently means many graduates do not opt to accept government operational management opportunities when they receive their degrees – policy making and related positions take priority.

7. Globally Other Nations are Exceeding Our Performance and We Are Being Left Behind.

As I synthesize my thoughts from recent conferences where I have spoken/ presented, I would offer the view that there are hundreds of global success stories in the broad arena of Citizen Friendly or Customer Friendly government management category. The guiding light is being provided by countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and beyond. These global success stories demonstrate a leadership commitment and passion I have rarely seen in the United States. Entrepreneurs are alive and well across the globe in all types of government organizations.

Let me provide two straightforward examples of leadership in the public sector globally to prove my point.

• India – Leading in the Gandhian Tradition –

First, as a faculty member, I had the honor and privilege to be an integral part of the 2013 Cambridge Graduate University Global Leader Summit Intensive held in New Delhi, India from April 10 – April 16, at the Westin Gurgaon Hotel, Delhi, India. This 7 Day Global Leader Summit was conducted in coordination with Amity University, Galgotia University, and the Sulabh Sanitation & Social Reform Movement. The event included global professionals, faculty and doctoral candidates from numerous countries focused on “transformational leadership” and how the Gandhian Transformational Model of Leadership guides the best of India’s global leadership in the 21st Century.

Therefore, the question then to our CGU students was: How do we, on a quantum leap forward basis, accelerate or expand the development of more role model transformational leaders across all sectors of our global society, as THE foundation for resolving our most intense global problems, whether they be world poverty, climate change, or sustained economic development? Our initial reply to this broad, global question was to learn from existing transformational leaders. One truly inspirational example was our 2- 3 hour visit with Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak’s and his Sulabh Sanitation & Social Reform Movement. In brief, this leading India Non-Government Organization (NGO) fulfills Mahatma Gandhi’s unfinished task to restore human rights and dignity to the ‘untouchables’ while providing affordable sanitary facilities to masses throughout the country.

http://www.sulabhinternational.org/

Sulabh International Social Service Organization, a non-profit voluntary social organization founded in 1970 by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, is dedicated to Gandhian ideology of emancipation of scavengers. Sulabh has been working for the removal of untouchability and social discrimination against scavengers, a section of Indian society condemned to clean and carry human excreta manually. Sulabh is noted for achieving success in the field of costeffective sanitation, liberation of scavengers, social transformation of society, prevention of environmental pollution and development of nonconventional sources of energy. Consider the following statements that summarize Dr. Pathak’s accomplishments over the last 40 – 50 years:

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder of Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India, has been named the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. As the Founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, He is known around the world for his wide ranging work in the sanitation field to improve public health, advance social progress, and improve human rights in India and other countries. His accomplishments span the fields of sanitation technology, social enterprise, and healthcare education for millions of people in his native country, serving as a model for NGO agencies and public health initiatives around the world.

Our visit with Dr. Pathak strongly reinforced and renewed for me the perspective that major change and social progress is distinctly possible on large, complex, and embedded societal issues. However, this happens only if one is deeply committed and has the will power, conviction, and courage to lead, while continually focused on a strategic, compelling vision for our country or our planet as a whole. This reinforced “get it done, make it happen” change management direction is broadly applicable to any and all societies on many levels, for most of our global problems – if and when we are ready as citizens and leaders of the world to embrace, share, and adapt/adopt what Dr. Pathak continues to do in India and beyond.

  • The Subordinate Courts of Singapore (SUBCTs)

http://app.subcourts.gov.sg/subcourts/page.aspx?pageid=82762

Next consider our second global performance excellence case study. Pause for a moment and think reflectively, openly and honestly – How often have you associated “your” local or state court system with operational performance excellence where they actually measure citizen satisfaction and how they treat any and all employees who work there? They have been doing exactly that in Singapore for over 10 years or more!!

I was extremely privileged to hear this success story as explained by Chief District Judge Tan Siong Thye in Auckland. As a critical component of the Judiciary, the Subordinate Courts handle more than 95% of the Judiciary’s case load in the City/State of Singapor. This court system in Singapore won the coveted 2011 Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation, an award that represents the pinnacle of business excellence in Singapore.

As just two selected measures of their business results, they most certainly demonstrate their enterprise-wide commitment to performance excellence. The SUBCTs gauge general public satisfaction using 5 indices, namely (a) public trust and confidence; (b) fairness; (c) accessibility; (d) independence; and (e) timeliness, through public perception surveys. Very high ratings are registered and an improving trend is observed for all 5 indices over the years.

  • Public Trust and Confidence. The ratings for public trust and confidence have not only exceeded the 80% target over the years but have steadily improved over time. The ratings leaped from 93% in 2001 to an all-time high of nearly 99% in 2010. As compared to the other judiciaries studied, the SUBCTs enjoy a significantly higher level of public trust and confidence.
  • Confidence in Leadership. The level of confidence in leadership amongst employees in the SUBCTs is an important measurement of employee engagement and continues to run high. In the past 3 surveys, the overall confidence level in leadership exceeded 90%. These ratings are better than those of other organizations that have carried out similar employee surveys.

The Singapore Courts is simply one exceptional case study of government operational excellence from this Auckland World Congress. How would John Roberts react as our Chief Justice of our U.S. Supreme Court? Forget about Roe vs. Wade for a moment, what is the cycle time for a case to “get through” our or your local court system? Do you know? What are the Business Results for our US Supreme Court compared to Singapore or the UK or Germany?

  • What Does This Mean For the Management and Leadership of Our Government?

Are we in the United States ready for this level of performance excellence in our local, state, or federal court systems? Where is that occurring today? Or, for that matter, where are similar examples of performance excellence occurring across the entire spectrum of our US government landscape – at the city, county, state, and/or federal levels? They are there for sure, yet we are not at the “top of our game” for our country as a whole.

Can we compete at this global, Olympic level with these other nations of the world? Is 5 – 10% of operational excellence performance sufficient or “the best we can do” in the United States when compared against these broader commitments in Singapore and elsewhere across the world?

As mentioned at the outset, I would strongly advocate that our citizens across our country today deserve a QUANTUM LEAP in operational performance excellence in the coming years across all levels of government. The approaches and strategies being used today are not working on a broad scale – at the federal, state, and local levels.

Let me now move on to exactly how you as our President can and should “ignite that spark and fire” of inspiration to get us moving toward a more expanded level of performance excellence in the management of our government enterprises in the United States and across the globe.

B. Your Proposed Solution – Define Our “Going to the Moon” Vision for Our Country for the Next 25 – 50 Years!!

1. History – Going To The Moon in 1962.

As I am sure you recall Mr. President, in September of 1962, in Houston, Texas, former President John F. Kennedy, established a compelling, riveting vision for our country at that time:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”

“Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

Today, May 16, 2013, over 50 years later, we, as a country, are crying out for an equally compelling, riveting, and “BHAG” (Big Harry Audacious Goal) based vision for our country. There is an evolving malaise among millions of our employees in both the public and private sectors. Can our government actually perform today consistent with President Kennedy’s “Going to the Moon” vision? We need to lead the world again.

Therefore, it is my considered judgment that you need to create that vision and build ownership of it across the vast landscape of our government enterprises, to eventually impact all of our 300 million people and our vast federal budget of close to $3.8 Trillion dollars and 2.5 million employees. What is one Trillion Dollars? It is a million million, it is a thousand billion, it is one followed by 12 zeros, or all of the GDP of the country of Australia.

What is our Return-On-That $3.8 Trillion Investment? That is what the public is asking and you/we need to respond in a tangible, measureable, performance excellence global leadership manner now – it is building our global sense of urgency today.

2. Create Our United States Vision for Our Entire Nation– Build It and They Will Come.

a. PHASE 1 – US Globally Focused Performance Excellence Vision Statements.

Accordingly, here are my recommendations for possible brief, short, and succinct United States of America national vision statements to guide us for the next 25- 50 years or more:

  • The United States Government (at all levels) is the world’s most admired and proven organization for performance excellence in the world.

(Meaning it is the most effective and efficient from an outside-in, citizen driven perspective, when explicitly and systematically compared to the management of government in all other countries on the planet).

  • We lead the world in all areas of global knowledge and understanding
  • We are the global beacon/role model of performance excellence in all that we pursue
  • We are the greatest nation on our planet in all dimensions of human endeavor
  • The United States is the global role model for performance excellence in all areas of human enterprise.

These are simply several possible vision statements for you to ponder as you proceed to this next stage of building our national focus on the management and leadership of our institutions of government in the United States.

As part of the vision building process, I would also strongly advocate that you develop our vision by comparing our visioning views to those of the “top 10 or top 20” countries on earth. Those countries to consider are (as ranked in 2012 by the World Economic Forum): Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Denmark, Austria, France, Belgium, China, India, South Korea, and Norway.

b. PHASE 2 – Convene a Washington, DC Government Leadership Summit Meeting: Timing: September to October 2013. The central, strategic, overriding focus of this August 2013 Summit meeting session will be on:

How to build a common, collective, collaborative, AND SUSTAINABLE commitment to Government Improvement over the next 10 – 20 years or more for all jurisdictions – federal, state, and local, ON A GLOBAL SCALE. Or, stated another way:

  • The Development of Our Government Improvement “Quantum Leap” Charter, Common Outcomes
  • What can we achieve better together on a unified, collaborative basis?
  • What are the common principles and practices of successful government improvement?
  • What specific strategies will we commit to today that will strengthen the management of government at all levels for the foreseeable future?

The participation of the top 5 senior leaders from each federal Cabinet level agency is considered vital as we collectively seek to reach our vision for the management of government in the coming years: By 2016, the end of your Obama administration:

  • We will demonstrate that 20% or more of government agencies can perform major business process system management tasks, faster, cheaper, better than the private sector.
  • Our citizens will acknowledge that the top 5 to 10% of the most admired managed organizations in the world include government institutions.
  • The senior leaders of 50% or more of most government organizations are appointed, elected, or hired based in large part on their knowledge of, and commitment to, business process management and operational excellence.

You, Mr. President, would be an integral part of this Summit Meeting as THE leading speaker and sponsor of the event, as you deliver your thoughts on our evolving global vision for our country as discussed above. That responsibility cannot be delegated to anyone else in your administration. We would expect you to be there to lead, support, and endorse the proceedings in all respects.

c. PHASE 3 – Develop a Global Benchmarking Community of Practice (CoP) Capacity for Selected Federal Government  Agencies – Timing: Fall 2013.

  • Strategic Institution Selection. Strategically (through a formalized criteria “application” process) select and engage the involvement of 10 to 15 federal agencies in the USA, along with their counterparts in Australia, and the UK to share best practices as part of a Global Compendium Report of Best Practices. Total involvement = 20 to 30 agencies in USA, Australia and the UK at the outset.
  • Public Leadership Benchmarking Workshop – the planning and initial stage of the selection process will be a kick-off workshop. At these workshops, leaders and their small senior leadership teams from each invited organization will learn how to do benchmarking well so that that we address your important and urgent needs for Continuous Improvement.
  • Create Formal Benchmarking Partnership Agreements. Build our formal benchmarking partnership agreements with each country and each selected agency, to include senior leaders from each participating organization. That would mean the total number of senior leaders participants would approximate 50-75 active participating members (up to 3 countries, 5 agencies per country, and 5 senior leaders/ agency).
  • Overall Summary Level Implementation Steps:
  1. Determine what “top 3” strategic or core government as a whole business processes/ functions each institution would select to strengthen to become the “top 5 or top 10”managed institution, on a global scale, when compared against the world-class leaders, wherever they may be.
  2. Identify both in-state, out-of-state, and out-of-country (international) potential benchmarking partners (public and private sector) in each priority business process area as guided by the relevant agency, state or country-wide strategic direction.
  3. Build and sustain a regular CoP forum for exchanging benchmarking best practices and ideas, across these “top 3” core business process areas as THE basis for continually improving the performance targets included in each monthly or quarterly review. This forum will then serve as proven continuous improvement resource for all organizations with the outcome of ultimately yielding a permanent benchmarking capacity as an integral part of how that government agency sustains its broad, strategic direction and accelerated continuous improvement over a 10 – 20+ year period.

In summary, then, Mr. President, this open letter asks you to initiate a stronger, more focused, and truly transformational and strategic leadership direction in the management of all of our federal government agencies. This is intended to cover the entire scope of our federal budget today that is defined by:

  • Total expenditures of close to $4 Trillion dollars, 2.8 million employees, that includes 25% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

We as citizens expect this level of exceptional global leadership from you and your senior leadership team at the White House. I await your response so we can move forward together to make this visionary direction a reality in the shortest time frame possible. Our national urgency is now. This deserves your highest priority.

You are the Chief Executive Officer of our government. The world beckons.

Sincerely,

Dale F. Weeks, President
Global Leadership and
Benchmarking Associates (GLBA)
& Adjunct Faculty Member
Cambridge Graduate University
3041 Shamrock North
Tallahassee, FL 32309
E-Mail: dfwglba@gmail.com
Phone: 850-591-1076
https://sites.google.com/site/dfglba/
Member: Global Benchmarking
Network (GBN)
http://www.globalbenchmarking.org/