The problem with best practices is that they often merely masquerade as innovation.
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In the wrong hands, they become a shield to deflect critics, as though one can expect to be granted management immunity by proclaiming the use of supposedly tried-and-proven solutions. But a cut-and-paste approach to better government is emblematic of status-quo thinking, the "we've-always-done-it-that-way" mindset that serves as a powerful deterrent to meaningful change. That, in turn, is a reflection of the feeling among many in the public sector that government is extremely risk-averse and has little tolerance for mistakes.
But that is an illusion. It is the drag of old mental models that really impairs progress and innovation in the public sector--the fear of trying anything new unless it is something borrowed from another agency or jurisdiction that has been declared to be a best practice.
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You don't have to look far in government to see the damage that a reliance on best practices can do to an organization. Cautionary tales abound of leaders who decided to adopt a set of best practices, only to find that those initiatives not only did not bring the hoped-for results but also produced inertia--their organizations became stale and ineffective.
Best practices too often are the enemy of innovation. Progressive leaders recognize that extrapolating from trends to understand where government is heading is fundamental to genuine innovation.
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As the hockey star Wayne Gretzky put it, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it's been. The search for next practices requires a heavy emphasis on aggregating information from all sectors--public, private and nonprofit--and really analyzing it, seeking to discover where it all converges and transitions from a trend to an opportunity.
What impact, for example, will the explosion of social media have on citizen engagement?
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Is the consolidation of E services among agencies temporary or part of a larger movement? Has the crest of technology arrived in government financial operations, and if so what are the implications of that for the future? Looking for answers to questions like those, Michael Wilkes, the city manager of Olathe, Kan.
This management device has proven to be essential for Wilkes and his team as they plan and then monitor progress toward desired results.
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Likewise, the city of Brookings, S. There is a lot more useful information, including guidance on the roles of the various parties charged with managing risk in the pursuit of objectives. I leave you to read the paper in full.
Dr David Hillson
What do you think of it? Do you agree? Is it practical to expect that potential positive effects to be evaluated with the same discipline as adverse consequences? Internal Auditor is pleased to provide you an opportunity to share your thoughts about these blog posts. Some comments may be reprinted elsewhere, online or offline. Sign In.
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This is only one dimension of the total picture. Evaluating positive outcomes is just as important an element of ERM as evaluating the downside as ERM is concerned with the whole picture enterprisewide and evaluating risk strategy in relation to a portfolio of risks. The objective of ERM is to maintain risk at an acceptable level and ensure the best balance possible between threats and opportunities — in line with the risk appetite and business strategy of the board and executive management.
It is concerned with ensuring the achievement of goals as the enterprise develops and appropriate management of the organization's assets, including avoidance of losses as a result of unwanted events. A prerequisite for being able to exercise sound risk management is therefore that there are clearly defined goals at the strategic level, to which goals at other levels in the organization may be linked.
In this way risk evaluations at all levels will be linked to a hierarchy of objectives which supports the enterprise's overall strategy.
In practice this means ensuring the best possible basis for arriving at decisions at the various levels of the organization, so that the decisions made will support the overall objectives.
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