Civilian Agency “X” Case Study 

Result: “X” Agency Reacts In Multiple Ways

At the end of part 3, we had promised a case study in layering cultural and business transformations. To recap, we have been writing a five-part blog series (currently four parts) on the transformations of businesses and organizations. The following details Agency “X’s” response to these transformations, referencing the table and images from part 3, shown below. Earlier, we had discussed the varying maturity levels: bound for failure, transitional, mission integrated, user integrated, and utopian.

Maturity LevelsName/PatternDescription
1Side “I” RoutesBound for failure – Driven by either all Soft Science or all Hard Science
2Corner “L” routesTransitional, Hope – Driven by historic Soft or Hard, and after the fact, looks at the other
3Middle “C” routesMission Integrated – Analysis blends cross-organization as part of the culture
4Mixed – Top “Y”, lower “Z” RoutesUser Integrated – Analysis understands and can manage customer experience and needs
5UtopianOnly exists on earth in business school textbooks

The Scenarios

Policy Management attempts to be at a Level 3, Upper Left “C”. As a reminder, Level 3 is Mission Integrated – Analysis blends cross-organization as part of the culture. However, the “revolving door” limits the agency to being at Level 1 at the Left Side “I”. “X” agency reacts to societal change in mission needs (resource use, protection, etc.). However, it has yet to implement an effective performance management system. In other words, Agency “X” is unfortunately bound for failure.

Program Management waffles between Maturity Levels 2 and 3. Level 2, as a reminder, is Transitional, Hope – Driven by historic Soft or Hard, and after the fact,  looks at the other. Consequently, they are a Right “C” at best. Agency “X” is responding quite well to the upper part of the “C” based on OMB guidance and has implemented several initially stove-piped approaches. Also, they are demonstrating the ability to transition well and are blending cross-organization as part of the culture.

IT Management is purely a Level 1 Right “I”. Level 1, unfortunately, means you are bound for failure. It is driven by either all Soft Science or all Hard Science. “X” agency still has 40% or so of its IT investments under this approach, under the O&M budget, and possibly more given the many scientific applications are funded via grants bypassing the local/direct need for business and governance involvement. Technologists are driving blind to business needs, not because of lack of competence, but there are language barriers between hard science approach and soft-side approach limiting managements capability to sponsor initiatives. Furthermore, the Total Cost of ownership increases each year, and user experience gets impacted. Consequently, we see a proverbial DMV line online.

Real Examples

  • “X” agency plays to longer-term goals of managing the stewardship responsible resources. Short-term goals take a lot of resources. However, as their goals are not in the national spotlight. Instead, they focus more on national resource infrastructure. They get a higher priority due to the societal reaction to advance and legislate more. Because of that, the mission of “X” agency gets compromised. Also, sub-cultures have reacted autonomously to meet their missions.
  • This allowed technology investments to pass thru immediately to their specific products and services, thus likely duplicating many supporting products, services, and components thru O&M budgets rather than centralized financial controls.
  • Middle-management efforts to integrate have failed to establish integrated change management, as the O&M folks still controlled the strings to their purse, and didn’t have to step up to bat.

Going Into Part 5…

The final part of this study calls out the recommended steps to consider to help bring the cultures together before undertaking or to help in risk mitigation when undertaking a business transformation