Welcome to our spring issue of The Public Manager. Imagine yourself in a favorite space. I’m reading you this column. Eyes closed, you are contemplative. You reflect on where you and your team have been, and then you envision where you want to go next.

Now, open your eyes. Look around. It’s time for designing and developing for success. Research shows that it’s important to look inward to lead forward; experts make a solid case for introspection before charging ahead.

In this issue we address visual, intellectual, and conceptual design. To borrow the words of author James Kouzes, “We don’t want to wake up in the morning and go to work where there’s a sign over the door that says: Just like every other department.” We want to go to an inspiring place.

Designing for Success

Tips inside include how to use visual management to maximize performance, as Stewart Liff remembers doing at Veterans Affairs offices and elsewhere. Todd Brymer and Deborah Melancon illustrate how to streamline collaborative governance with architecture to support intelligence—in this case at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

By repurposing old coal-fired power plants into creative and productive spaces, Gregory C. Staple and Matthew I. Slavin argue, communities can foster economic growth and activity along valuable waterfronts. Likewise, when we research safe surfaces and equipment for public playgrounds before building, we can make a sound investment in our children. In Budgets, since the Supercommittee failed, Steve Redburn and Damien Moore suggest revisiting plans laid out by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform.

Strategic Human Capital Deployment

As always, we present new ideas for human capital deployment focused on the better use of scarce resources. Jitinder Kohli discusses keys to innovation and provides us with a quiz to see how our workplaces are doing. In People, Dan Helfrich, William Eggers and Charles Tierney expound on a strategic plan for cloud technology:  a human “cloud” within the federal government could make workers available as needed without filling a seat in any particular department.


American University’s Bob Tobias and Damon Taylor provide advice on how to be authentic leaders. Their colleague, Patrick Malone, reviews The Agile Leader, a novel by a former marine and FBI agent.

Visionary Jody Hudson and his team at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission relate how to lead by establishing a culture of continuous learning and communities of practice. And as returning troops seek employment, Learning columnist Emily King discusses her new guide for retaining veterans’ talent in government.

Reconnecting to Public Service

Is private character a public issue when the person is a public servant? Navy Captain Chuck Hollingsworth says yes. “It is time for the federal workforce to commit to a renewed standard of ethical public service.” 

Have your workers checked out in spirit but remain at their desks? Julie Nielsen and Tracy Maylett offer ways to stem the “engagement exodus” in our offices. Technology columnist Keather Snyder gives us ideas for leading teleworkers.

Finally, in our Exchange on The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Barry Posner remind us that everyone, including teleworkers, needs some face-to-face interaction to see the shared vision. Posner particularly advises leaders they will earn trust when there’s congruence between what they say and what they do. Anyone need a protractor?

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