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Michael J Keegan

Leadership Fellow and Host, The Business of Government Hour at IBM Center for The Business of Government

Washington D.C. Metro Area, United States

Leadership Fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government & Host, Business of Government Hour

Available For: Speaking
Travels From: Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Michael J Keegan Points
Academic 0
Author 897
Influencer 12
Speaker 0
Entrepreneur 0
Total 909

Points based upon Thinkers360 patent-pending algorithm.

Thought Leader Profile

Portfolio Mix

Company Information

Company Type: Company
Minimum Project Size: N/A
Average Hourly Rate: N/A
Number of Employees: 1-10
Company Founded Date: 1998
Media Experience: 15 years

Areas of Expertise

Agile 30.03
AI 30.05
Analytics 30.21
Big Data 30.19
Blockchain 30.08
Change Management
Coaching 30.30
COVID19 30.27
Creativity 30.95
Cryptocurrency 30.13
Culture
Cybersecurity
Design Thinking 30.19
Digital Transformation 30.05
Digital Twins 32.45
Emerging Technology
FinTech 30.06
Future of Work 30.02
GovTech 100
Health and Safety 30.79
HealthTech 30.03
Innovation 34.18
International Relations 30.78
IT Leadership 35.38
IT Operations 33.39
IT Strategy 33.65
Leadership 31.35
Management 30.70
National Security 33.83
Procurement 30.16
Risk Management 30.37
Security 31.17
Supply Chain 30.03

Industry Experience

Federal & Public Sector
Healthcare
Insurance
Media

Publications

129 Article/Blogs
A Path to Effective Leadership: Insights from John Kotter and Warren Bennis
LinkedIn
June 10, 2024
Leadership is a multifaceted concept that has been explored from numerous angles. Sometimes it is a good idea to revisit insights offered not so long ago that may in fact help chart a path forward today. As the sayings go: “what’s old is new again” and “there are no real new ideas just new contexts”

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

Exploring Digital Transformation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
IBM Center for The Business of Government
May 15, 2024
Recently, Andrea Fletcher, chief digital strategy officer at CMS, joined me on The Business of Government Hour to discuss the intricate landscape of digital transformation and delve into the innovative strategies and initiatives driving digital transformation across CMS, offering key insights into the future of healthcare service delivery. Here are some highlights of our conversation.

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Tags: Digital Transformation, HealthTech, Innovation

Leadership Lessons from Aaron Wildavsky: Embracing Complexity, Adaptability, and Critical Thinking
LinkedIn
May 13, 2024
Aaron Wildavsky, a renowned political scientist and policy analyst, has left a lasting impact on leadership studies through his extensive research and writings. While Wildavsky's work, particularly the influential book Speaking Truth to Power: The Art and Craft of Policy Analysis, explores the complexities of policy analysis, it also provides invaluable insights into leadership

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

Driving Greater IT Efficiency and Innovation
LinkedIn
May 09, 2024
In the fast-paced and ever-evolving realm of information technology (IT), public sector organizations face unique challenges in delivering effective services while ensuring security, efficiency, and scalability

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

Leadership Lessons from David Mamet's "True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor"
LinkedIn
May 06, 2024
While it’s a guide for actors, the book offers profound lessons that can be applied to leadership in various contexts. For Mamet acting isn’t simply about pretending; it is at its core – an act of truth-telling much like leadership.

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

On Accelerating Technology Procurement in DoD
LinkedIn
May 02, 2024
The traditional approach to defense acquisition has long been criticized for its complexity, rigidity, and slow pace. However, the rapid advancement of digital technology and AI has compelled the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to rethink its acquisition strategies.

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

The Art of Leadership: Insights from Eduardo Briceño, Jen Pahlka, & Roger Spitz
LinkedIn
April 26, 2024
Leadership is a complex and dynamic endeavor, requiring adaptability, resilience, and a forward-thinking mindset. This is especially true in today's fast-paced, disruptive world, where leaders must be prepared to embrace change and navigate uncertainty.

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

Resilient Leadership: How to Adapt and Thrive
LinkedIn
April 25, 2024
“Leadership is not a static trait—it is a dynamic state,” declares Hitendra Wadhwa in his article, Leading in the Flow of Work, which appears as part of the spotlight feature, "The Leadership Mindset", in the Harvard Business Review January-February 2024. He offers a critically important insight especially at a time when disruption and disorientation seem to be ever present and the need for effective leadership even more pressing.

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

Driving Digital Transformation: A Perspective from Erwin Rademaker, Program Manager, Port of Rotterdam Authority
LinkedIn
May 17, 2021
The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. From all indications, the port is preparing for the future today, focusing on safety, efficiency, and sustainability. To do this successfully, the port is developing its digital twin, providing real-time situ­ational awareness of all things static, moving, human-driven, or autono­mous, pulling together all the geographic, sensor, and real-time information to provide port personnel a complete and current view of port activities.

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Tags: GovTech, Leadership, Digital Twins

Pursuing Supply Chain Immunity
IBM
April 29, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and the consequences of this global event will have long-lasting effects. Along with the continued carnage left in its wake, this pandemic most assuredly revealed significant vulnerabilities, exposing points of serious weakness in global, regional, and local supply chains and networks impacting all sectors of the economy, including the government. Why is the global supply chain so vulnerable? What is supply chain immunity? How can we achieve national supply chain immunity?

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Tags: Supply Chain, GovTech, Risk Management

The Future of Work in Local Governments Post Pandemic
IBM
April 13, 2021
In Fall-Winter 2020, the IBM Center for The Business of Government initiated a Challenge Grant Competition soliciting essays from academics and practitioners describing how government can best transform the way it works, operates, and delivers services to the public given the impact of this pandemic.

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Tags: GovTech, Future of Work, COVID19

Jan Edmunds, Chairwoman of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation
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March 11, 2019
Jan Edmunds, Chairwoman of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation

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Tags: GovTech

Terry Gerton, President and CEO, National Academy of Public Administration
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March 04, 2019
Terry Gerton, President and CEO, National Academy of Public Administration

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Tags: GovTech

Avi Bender, Director, National Technical Information Service
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February 25, 2019
How is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS) helping to advance federal data priorities? How does it work with the private sector to develop new and improved data products and services? What does NTIS do to deliver value to federal agencies? Join host Mich

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Tags: Analytics, GovTech

Jane Wiseman, Data-Driven Government: The Role of Chief Data Officers
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February 18, 2019
How can we realize the promise of data-driven government? What do Chief Data Officers (CDOs) actually do? How can they help government agencies use data to inform decision making? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Jane Wiseman, author of the IBM Center report, Dat

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Tags: Big Data, Innovation, FinTech

Suzette Kent, Federal Chief Information Officer, Office of Management and Budget
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February 11, 2019
What are the US federal governments IT modernization priorities? How can the US federal IT community work together to drive good government through technology? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Suzette Kent, Federal CIO within the Office of Management and Budge

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Tags: Big Data, GovTech, Management

Conversations with Peter K. Levine, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Defense Analyses on Auditing, Department of Defense
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February 04, 2019
Why does U.S. Department of Defense lack of an auditable financial statement? What has DoD done to get to auditability? What challenges are faced in getting audited financial statement and how can DoD do better? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Peter K. Levine of

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Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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January 14, 2019
How is the Veterans’ Appeals process changing? What are the key priorities for the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals? How is the implementation of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 going? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Cheryl Mason,

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Josh Mandel, Treasurer, State of Ohio
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January 07, 2019
Join host Michael Keegan as he welcomes outgoing two-term Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel to reflect on his public service career and his pursuit of innovative initiatives around financial transparency, leveraging technological advances such as cryptocurrency and blockchain, and enhancing how his office

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Tags: Blockchain, Cryptocurrency

Leaders Speak on Collaborative Governance
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December 31, 2018
Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour Leaders Speak on Collaborative Governance. Traditional hierarchical models of governing are increasingly being supplemented with a collaborative network model. Join host Michael Keegan as he explores the use of collaboration in government with a hos

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Tags: GovTech, Management

Jacqueline Carter, Partner and Director North America, Potential Project
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December 24, 2018
What are key leadership qualities for a digital age? How can you become a Mindful Leader? What tools and practices can be employed to better lead yourselves, your teams, and your organizations. Join us as we explore these questions and more with Jacqueline Carter, co-author of The Mind of the Leader

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Tags: Management, Leadership

What will Government Look Like in 2040?
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December 17, 2018
What will government be in 2040? How will it operate? The IBM Center for The Business of Government convened a panel discussion envisioning government operations 20 years into the future. Join host Michael Keegan for a Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour as he explores the vision of g

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Tags: Procurement, Management

Insights from the Deputy Directors for Management at the Office of Management and Budget
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December 10, 2018
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the IBM Center for The Business of Government convened a panel discussion with the current and 3 past deputy directors for management at the Office of Management and Budget. Join host Michael Keegan as they reflect on the most significant government management

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Chris Browne, Deputy Director, The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
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December 03, 2018
How is the The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum being Transformed? What is being done to enhance the visitor’s museum experience? What’s next for the National Air and Space Museum. Join host Michael Keegan next week as he explores these questions and more with Chris Browne,

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Her Excellency Dr. Rauda Al Saadi, Director General, Abu Dhabi’s Smart Solutions and Services Authority
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November 26, 2018
What is Abu Dhabi’s digital transformation strategy? How is Abu Dhabi’s Smart Solutions and Services Authority changing how citizens engage with government? Join host Michael Keegan on a special edition of The Business of Government Hour – Global Thought Leadership series with Her Excellen

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Tags: GovTech

1 Book
Transforming the Business of Government: Insights on Resiliency, Innovation, and Performance
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
December 08, 2023
Governments face increasingly serious, seemingly intractable management challenges. This book brings together scholars, thought leaders, and government executives to address the future of government operations, and provide government leaders with practical, actionable insights on how best to manage and lead through uncertain and disruptive times

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

234 Podcasts
Executing the Digital Strategy for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS): A Conversation with Andrea Fletcher, Chief Digital Strategy Officer at CMS
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May 13, 2024
What is the digital strategy for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services? How does CMS use of Open Source software across the its enterprise? What does the future hold digital transformation at CMS? Join host Michael J. Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Andrea Fletcher, Ch

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Tags: GovTech

Enhancing Information Technology at the International Trade Administration (ITA): A Conversation with Gerald Caron, CIO at ITA
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May 06, 2024
What is the IT strategy for the International Trade Administration (ITA)? How is ITA modernizing and securing its technology infrastructure? What does the future hold for IT at the International Trade Administration? Join host Michael J Keegan as he explores these questions and more with guest Geral

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Tags: GovTech

Accelerating Tech Procurement in DOD: A Conversation with Bonnie Evangelista, Acting Deputy Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer for Acquisition
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April 29, 2024
What is the mission of the DoD’s Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office? What is the Tradewinds Marketplace? How do Tradewinds acquisitions differ from traditional acquisitions? What does the future for the Tradewinds Marketplace at DOD? Join host Michael J Keegan as he explores these qu

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Tags: GovTech

Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour – Insights on Leadership, Mindset, and Thriving on Disruption
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April 22, 2024
How can the U.S. federal government rebuild its digital capabilities and truly transform how government does business? What is the difference between learning while doing and learning by doing? How can government agencies become more adaptive and thrive on disruption. Join host Michael Keegan as he

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Tags: GovTech

Putting Veterans First: Exploring the VA’s Customer Experience Strategy with John Boerstler, Chief Veterans Experience Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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April 15, 2024
What is the customer experience (CX) strategy for the US Department of Veterans Affairs? How has VA increased its Trust Index? What is the VA doing to enhance its employee experience? Join host Michael J. Keegan as he explores these questions and more with John Boerstler Chief Veterans Experience Of

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Tags: GovTech

Leading through Uncertain Times with Dr. Jeff Karp, author of LIT – Life Ignition Tools: Use Nature’s Playbook to Energize Your Brain, Spark Ideas, and Ignite Action
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April 08, 2024
How can government leaders learn, connect, adapt, and draw energy from their experiences? What role does intention play in being a successful leader? How can Life Ignition Tools help leaders be more effective? Join host Michael Keegan on This Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour –

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Tags: GovTech

Driving Digital Transformation: A Conversation with Jason Bonci, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of the Air Force
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April 01, 2024
What is the technology strategy for the U.S. Department of the Air Force? How is the U.S. Air Force leveraging emerging technology to transform how it does IT? What are the U.S. Department of the Air Force’s Zero Trust and ICAM Strategies? Michael J. Keegan explores these questions and more with J

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Tags: GovTech

Becoming a Growth Leader: A Conversation with Scott Edinger, author, The Growth Leader
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March 25, 2024
How can government leaders enhance the customer experience in the agencies they lead? What insights can government leaders learn from the private sector on how to improve CX (customer experience)? What is the difference between managing tasks versus leading for results? Join host Michael Keegan as h

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Tags: GovTech

Exploring Homeland Security’s Procurement Strategy: A Conversation with Paul Courtney, Chief Procurement Officer, DHS
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March 18, 2024
Paul Courtney is the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He is equipped with a deeply rooted experience in contracting, giving him unique perspectives on the policies, regulations, and standards in procurement and contracting.  Along with his accelerati

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Tags: GovTech

Ensuring a World-Class IT Experience for DoD Leadership: A Conversation with Danielle Metz, Director, Information Management & Technology Director and CIO, Office of the Secretary of Defense
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March 11, 2024
How does technology form the connective tissue that ties the missions of the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) together? How is the IM&T directorate maximizing the use of technology to support OSD? What does the future hold for OSD’s IT Enterprise? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores th

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Tags: GovTech

Exploring Government-Venture Arrangements: A Conversation with Arun Gupta, co-author, VENTURE MEETS MISSION: Aligning People, Purpose, and Profit to Innovate and Transform Society
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March 04, 2024
What are the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset? How can government and entrepreneurial ventures work together to address significant challenges facing us today? What does a thriving “venture meets mission” ecosystem look like and what is the future of government-venture arrangements?

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Tags: GovTech

Defining a New Reality in Healthcare: A Conversation with Dr. Anne Bailey, Executive Director, VHA Strategic Initiatives Lab
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February 26, 2024
What is the mission of the Strategic Initiatives Lab (Strat Lab) at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)? How is it using virtual reality and other immersive technologies to change how the department serves veterans? What does the future hold for the VHA’s Strat Lab? Join host Michael Keegan a

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Tags: GovTech

Transforming the Business of Government: Insights on Resiliency, Innovation, and Performance
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February 19, 2024
How can we find value in the unexpected? What can we do to be more resilient? How can we leverage innovation to improve government performance? Join Michael Keegan on a Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour as he explores these questions and more celebrating the 25th anniversary of the

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Tags: GovTech

Turning the Power of Mindset into Action: Drive Learning & High Performance With a Growth Mindset Culture
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February 12, 2024
What is the performance paradox? What is the difference between learning while doing and learning by doing? How can overcoming the performance paradox make government executives more effective? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Eduardo Briceno, author of the new b

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Tags: GovTech

Reforming the National Flood Insurance Program: A Conversation with Jeff Jackson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Federal Insurance — FEMA
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February 05, 2024
Jeff Jackson has served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Federal Insurance Directorate within Resilience since 2020. In this role, Jeff leads flood insurance operations for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at FEMA. The NFIP currently has approximately 4.7 million policyh

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Tags: GovTech

EXPERTS IN GOVERNMENT: A Conversation with Prof. Don Kettl.
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January 29, 2024
How do we balance the age-old battles between expertise and accountability in government? What is the role of experts in governance? Why have the challenges of bureaucratic capacity and control become far greater in the twenty-first century? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions an

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Tags: GovTech

Transforming the Taxpayer Experience: A Conversation with Karen Howard, Executive Director, Office of Online Services, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
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January 22, 2024
What is the mission of the Office of Online Services at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? What is the IRS doing to advance its digital services and enhance customer experience? How is the IRS leveraging AI and other emerging technologies to meet mission? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores the

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Tags: GovTech

Finding Value in the Unexpected: A Conversation with Margaret Heffernan
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January 15, 2024
Why are most humans uncomfortable with uncertainty and prediction addition? Does technological progress make predicting the future easier? If we can’t predict the future, how can we prepare for it? Why are the human gifts of curiosity and creativity more powerful tools to preparing for the future

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Tags: GovTech

Leveraging Technology to Transform GEOINT: A Conversation with Chris Johnson, Acting Chief Technology Officer, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)
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January 08, 2024
What is the mission of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s CIO-T directorate? How is NGA maximizing the use of technology to meet its mission? What are the technology priorities for NGA? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with Chris Johnson, Acting Chief Tec

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Tags: GovTech

Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour – Insights on Leadership, Mindset, and Thriving on Disruption
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January 01, 2024
How can the U.S. federal government rebuild its digital capabilities and truly transform how government does business? What is the difference between learning while doing and learning by doing? How can government agencies become more adaptive and thrive on disruption. Join host Michael Keegan as he

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Tags: GovTech

Leadership in Action: On Mission and Execution – Special Edition
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December 25, 2023
How are supplies and innovation delivered effectively to the warfighters? What are the best ways to deliver products and services to federal agencies? How are federal agency’s Putting People First? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with a host of government leaders i

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Tags: GovTech

Ensuring a World-Class IT Experience for DoD Leadership: A Conversation with Danielle Metz, Director, Information Management & Technology Director and CIO, Office of the Secretary of Defense
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December 18, 2023
How does technology form the connective tissue that ties the missions of the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) together? How is the IM&T directorate maximizing the use of technology to support OSD? What does the future hold for OSD’s IT Enterprise? Join host Michael Keegan as he explores th

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Tags: GovTech

Transforming the Business of Government: Insights on Resiliency, Innovation, and Performance
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December 11, 2023
How can we find value in the unexpected? What can we do to be more resilient? How can we leverage innovation to improve government performance? Join Michael Keegan on a Special Edition of The Business of Government Hour as he explores these questions and more celebrating the 25th anniversary of the

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation

Leading IT at the Securities and Exchange Commission: A Conversation with David Bottom, Chief Information Officer
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December 04, 2023
What is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s IT strategy? How is the SEC modernizing its technology infrastructure? What is it doing to expand its data analytics capabilities to better meet its mission? Join Michael Keegan as he explores these questions and more with David Bottom, Chief Inform

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Tags: GovTech

Strengthen Payment Integrity: A Conversation with Renata Miskell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Accounting Policy and Financial Transparency, at the U.S. Department of the Treasury
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November 27, 2023
How can U.S. federal government agencies strengthen their payment integrity efforts? What can the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Accounting Policy and Financial Transparency do to help with these efforts? How can we pivot from compliance to prevention-focused strategies that promote t

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Tags: GovTech

1 Video
Transforming the Business of Government: Insights on Resiliency, Innovation, & Performance NEW BOOK
IBM Center for the Business of Government
December 07, 2023
"If the 21st century has provided any lessons so far, it is the power of the unexpected. What has been starkly revealed is how systems in place to meet anticipated problems failed when the unanticipated happened. Given this new reality, now more than ever government leaders need practical, actionable insights on how best to manage and lead through uncertain and disruptive periods.That’s why the IBM Center has published, Transforming the Business of Government: Insights on Resiliency, Innovation, and Performance."

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Tags: GovTech, Innovation, Leadership

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Blog

2 Article/Blogs
Leadership Lessons from David Mamet's "True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor"
Thinkers360
May 16, 2024

True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor by David Mamet, the award-winning director, playwright, filmmaker, and author, is a bold and insightful book that challenges conventional wisdom in the acting world. While it’s a guide for actors, the book offers profound lessons that can be applied to leadership in various contexts. For Mamet acting isn’t simply about pretending; it is at its core – an act of truth-telling much like leadership.

This blog post explores these leadership lessons and how they can be used to foster a better understanding of leading people and teams. In many of the italicized quotes shared in this piece one can easily replace the word actor with leader and find real insight good leaders can apply.

Simplicity is Key

Mamet’s philosophy in "True and False" centers around simplicity and focus. He advocates for a straightforward approach to acting, without overcomplicating or overthinking the process.

“The actor is onstage to communicate the play to the audience. That is the beginning and the end of the actor’s job. They don’t need to “become” the character. There is no character. There are only lines on a page. There are lines of dialogue meant to be said by the actor. When they say them simply, in an attempt to achieve an object more or less like that suggested by the author, the audience sees an illusion of a character upon a stage.”

Leaders can apply this lesson by simplifying processes and communication within their organizations. Overly complex procedures and jargon can confuse team members, leading to inefficiency and miscommunication. By simplifying and focusing on the essentials, leaders can ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands the goals and objectives. By cutting through complexity and staying grounded in basic principles, leaders can guide their teams more effectively.

Trust Your Instincts

Mamet encourages actors to trust their instincts rather than relying solely on technical skills or over rehearsed techniques. This lesson is crucial for leaders as well. While it's important to have knowledge and expertise, true leadership often comes from trusting your intuition. Leaders who rely on their instincts can make decisions more confidently and encourage their teams to do the same. This creates a culture of empowerment, where individuals feel valued for their unique perspectives.

"The actor, in learning to be true and simple, in learning to speak to the point despite being frightened, and with no certainty of being understood, creates his own character; he forges character in himself."

Embrace Authenticity

Mamet champions authenticity in acting, emphasizing that the best performances come from being genuine rather than imitating others. Authenticity builds trust and credibility with team members, fostering a culture of integrity. When leaders are authentic, they build trust and rapport with their teams. This authenticity fosters loyalty and encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work, leading to greater creativity and innovation.

“You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’re got something to say; say it and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.”

Resist Over-Rehearsal

In the book, Mamet argues that over-rehearsing can lead to a loss of spontaneity and freshness in acting. For leaders, this translates into not over-planning or micromanaging. Leaders who resist the urge to control every detail allow for spontaneity and creativity to flourish within their teams. This flexibility can lead to innovative solutions and a more dynamic work environment.

Focus on the Objective

Mamet stresses the importance of having a clear objective when acting. This focus helps actors stay grounded and connected to their role, their lines. Similarly, leaders should always have a clear vision for their teams. When everyone understands the objective, it's easier to work towards a common goal. This clarity aligns the team and drives collective action, reducing confusion and increasing productivity.

“To deny nothing, inventing nothing, accept everything, and get on with it.”

Encourage Collaboration

Mamet believes that acting is a collaborative art form, where the best outcomes are achieved through teamwork. Leaders can take this lesson to heart by fostering a collaborative culture within their organizations. By encouraging teamwork and open communication, leaders create an environment where diverse perspectives can be shared freely, leading to better problem-solving and, and stronger team dynamics.

Learn from Failure

In "True and False," Mamet acknowledges that failure is part of the process. He encourages actors to embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Leaders can apply this lesson by creating a culture where failure is not stigmatized but seen as a stepping-stone to success. By embracing failure, leaders foster resilience and encourage their teams to take risks, knowing that setbacks are part of the journey toward growth and improvement.

“Let us learn acceptance. This is one of the greatest tools an actor can have. The capacity to accept to wish things to happen as they do It is the root of all happiness in life, and it is the root of wisdom for an actor. Acceptance. The capacity to accept derives from the will and the will is the source of character.”

Value Discipline and Work Ethic

Mamet emphasizes the importance of discipline and a strong work ethic in acting. Leaders can draw from this lesson by instilling discipline within their teams. This doesn't mean being overly strict, but rather fostering a sense of commitment and responsibility. Leaders who set high standards and lead by example inspire their teams to work diligently toward achieving their goals.

“The challenge is to open the mouth, stand straight, and say the words bravely – adding nothing, denying nothing, and without the intent to manipulate anyone.  To learn to do that is to learn to act.”

Respect for the Craft

Mamet's respect for the craft of acting translates to the importance of respecting the expertise and experience of others. Leaders who respect their team's skills and provide them with the necessary resources and autonomy are more likely to build a motivated and engaged workforce.

“Like sports, the study of acting consists in the main of getting out of one’s own way and in learning to deal with uncertainty and being comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Be Courageous

Finally, Mamet's bold approach to challenging established norms in acting demonstrates courage. Leaders can take this lesson to heart by being willing to challenge the status quo and make bold decisions. Courageous leaders inspire others and drive change within their organizations, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

“The simple performance of the great deed is called heroism. The person who will not be swayed who perseveres no matter what – that hero has the capacity to inspire us, to suggest that we reexamine our self-imposed limitations and try again.”

In summary, True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor by David Mamet offers a wealth of lessons for leaders. By embracing simplicity, authenticity, and collaboration, leaders can build strong, dynamic teams and foster a culture of trust, creativity, and continuous improvement. Trusting instincts, resisting over-rehearsal, and encouraging courage can further enhance a leader's ability to guide their teams successfully. By applying these principles, leaders can inspire their teams to achieve greatness and foster a culture of innovation and growth.

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Tags: Agile, Coaching, Creativity

Aaron Wildavsky On Writing and Craftsmanship
Thinkers360
March 22, 2024

This week the IBM Center for The Business of Government posted a blog by Katherine Barrett, Richard Greene, and Don Kettl announcing the release of their monograph, The Little Guide to Writing for Impact: How to Communicate Research in a Way that People Will Read.

The subtitle is key. The authors acknowledge the importance that government officials write well with the intent to produce government communication that the public can understand and use. However, they are even more worried about a connected issue: “too many people with great academic training are writing about powerful ideas, backed by years of research, that are obscure at best and incomprehensible at worst.” The book is aimed at those people with big ideas who want people to read them.

As I read this blog, it reminded me of Aaron Wildavsky’s excellent book of essays, Craftways: On the Organization of Scholarly Work.Wildavsky, a premier figure in the field of public administration, was a true intellectual craftsman: a superb prose stylist as well as an acute mind. He truly believed that quality writing is ineluctably linked to quality of thought. This compilation of essays is his meditation on craftsmanship offering insight less on the mechanics of writing and more on the craft of communicating.  His focus on craftsmanship continues to make his work on such diverse topics as political culture, policy analysis, implementation, budgeting, and public administration approachable, engaging, and revelatory. I’d like to share some of his thoughts on the craft of writing and how he approached it throughout his career. It is intended as a nice and worthwhile complement to the guidance offered today by Barrett, Green, and Kettl.

“In the Same Place, at the Same Time, and in the Same Way”

This is the essay that started all. It began Wildavsky’s effort to state the rules of writing he followed so that others might adapt them for their own use. “Were it not for the warm reception accorded this [essay], I might not have continued developing this genre,” he admits. He believed that the basic elements of craftsmanship in social science were not being taught nor observed close to give students a sufficiently precise idea of how to do their scholarly work. Here are some insights in his own words.

Bridging that Chasm Between the Thought and the Deed. Even if the thought is in you, there is no guarantee it will come out. That gulf can only be bridged by taking seriously the task of organizing work.

Developing Appropriate Habits. In addition to having things to say, the ability to write depends on developing appropriate habits, finding the right kind of place, obtaining useful criticism, learning how to arrange material, working out suitable physical style, combining teaching with research, and overcoming temptations to divert energies.

Importance of Habit and Rhythm. One cannot overestimate the importance of habit and rhythm: Try to work in the same place, at the same time, and in the same way.  Once the rhythm of work begins to take hold, it carries one through fallow periods. It keeps you going through the inevitable descriptive passages that contain nothing new but are essential for the story you are telling or the point you wish to make.

‘I write when sit and think when I walk.’ [Wildavsky liked to write for an hour or two then walk and think over the next steps.] There is something about releasing the physical energy kept under control while writing that makes it easier to begin again.  It is a mistake to push oneself when the flesh is weak and the spirit unwilling. Writing is not only a mental but a physical process in which a sense of though connects thought with word.

Writing is a Process of Self-Discovery. That sometimes leads you to say more than you knew was in you or carries you far from original intentions. That is why I have learned not to worry about introductions to books or essays. There is no sense in trying too hard to get them “right” because you do not know what that will be until you finish. The purpose of a beginning is to get you started; when the work is completed, you can go back to the beginning and tell the reader not what you thought you were going to say but what you ended up saying.

“Rationality in Writing: Linear and Curvilinear”

In this essay, Wildavsky introduces two distinctly different ways to approach writing. He describes how he used each of these approaches in writing two of his book. However, the ultimate point of the essay is to underscore the connection between thought and writing.

Writing as an Integral Part of Thinking. A writer by vocation is a person who cares about the quality and craft of writing as inseparable from the content of whatever they are trying to communicate. Indeed, for me writing has become an integral part of thinking. I don’t know what I think until I have tried to write it. Sometimes the purpose of writing is to discover whether I can express what I think I know; if it cannot be written, it is not right. Other times I write to find out what I know; writing becomes a form of self discovery. I hope to learn more than was in me when I started. Few feelings compare with the exhilaration of discovering a thought in the writing that was not in the thinking.

Writing Should Resonate with the Subject Matter. Making the form fit the substance so style reinforces content, is what craftmanship is about. However, the style should also fit the author, for style is a personal signature. It should be possible to recognize the author from the style. However, it is one thing to want to read a piece because of the author and quite another to learn more about the author than the subject.

Linear or Curvilinear – “Straight on” or “Roundabout”. Books and essays can be written linearly, straight-on according to plan, with one topic following another in orderly sequence. They may also be written in curvilinear fashion much like fitting together the parts of a puzzle except that all pieces are not available at the beginning but only as one goes along, and the final shape is made up by the pieces instead of being fit into a predetermined form. Though process may be roundabout, the story should be linear.  I have written both ways and each has its pleasures and pitfalls.  Linear is easier, but it must be done consecutively, the relationship among the parts being retained, so that time is a critical constraint. Curvilinear is more rewarding because of the surprise at creating something new.

This blog shares only a snapshot of some of the salient insights about the craftsmanship of writing and the organization of scholarly pursuits as documented by Aaron Wildavsky. Craftways: On the Organization of Scholarly Work has even more to offer its reader exploring such diverse but complementary topics as reading with a purpose, working with others, organizing your time wisely, and how best to do interviews. Throughout these essays, Wildavsky tries to transmute the personal into the general. From his own experience coupled with his observation of others, he offers advice on the craft aspects of scholarship and writing. He admits this advice may be inadequate or out of place, so when in doubt, he advises the reader to do it their own way. In the acknowledgment, he makes another worthwhile suggestion for those who are interested in exploring craftways to checkout C. Wright Mills’ exemplary “On Intellectual Craftsmanship.”

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