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Getting to Resilience

Originally delivered at Web Directions Culture in Sydney in 2018, a talk on building adaptability into a matrixed government tech and design team in difficult circumstances.

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Getting to Resilience

  1. 1. Getting to Resilience Cyd Harrell WebDirections Culture 2018
  2. 2. After the Healthcare.gov disaster
  3. 3. November 9, 2016
  4. 4. The theory (given a friendly administration) ➔ Recruit “the best” technologists into government ➔ Give them a great work environment ➔ Let them do what they do best ➔ WIN
  5. 5. A generic environment... ➔ Fancy computers ➔ Snack bars ➔ ➔ Project choice & 20% time ➔ Managers focus on staff’s career development ➔ Clear alignment on goals
  6. 6. Eng The Matrix Design Product Strategy Acquisitions
  7. 7. EngDesign Product Strategy Client Self-organizing!
  8. 8. Even given a friendly administration: ➔ Who handles performance problems? ➔ Do we recruit the right people? ➔ What kind of practice works here? ➔ How do we make practice consistent? ➔ What about our billability requirements?
  9. 9. Things are strange now.
  10. 10. During the first year of the new administration ➔ We were reorganized 3 times ➔ Technology Transformation Service ➔ Federal Acquisitions Service ➔ Centers of Excellence
  11. 11. Burnout became common.
  12. 12. July 2017: Chief of Staff
  13. 13. Past decisions Happy Halloween today, also!
  14. 14. EngDesign Product Strategy Leads SMT
  15. 15. SMT GMT
  16. 16. GMT
  17. 17. Communities of practice in a flat org ➔ 18F-only guilds with ½ hour weekly meetings ➔ government-wide Communities of Practice ➔ Considered side projects ContentResearch DevOps Front-End
  18. 18. New standards ➔ All types of CoP open to all within TTS ➔ All CoPs provide advice freely ➔ Official CoPs advice management on the practice they support.
  19. 19. Communities of practice in a flat org ➔ Guilds with ½ hour weekly meetings ➔ open email Communities of Practice ➔ Considered 20% time for billing purposes ContentResearch DevOps Front-End
  20. 20. Hiring freeze lifted Spring 2018
  21. 21. We weren’t serving anyone by signalling to techies that we were a free-for-all startup environment.
  22. 22. A new profile for hiring: ➔ People who want to collaborate above all ➔ People whose skills are beyond question ➔ People who make colleagues of clients ➔ People senior enough to have opinions ➔ People who aren’t ashamed to be consultants
  23. 23. Resilient organizations... ➔ Hire with full transparency ➔ Talk about performance openly ➔ Empower the front lines ➔ Open their practices
  24. 24. I worked for President Trump. I worked in the Trump administration. I worked for the federal government. I worked for the American public.
  25. 25. Healthy institutions withstand.
  26. 26. Questions?
  27. 27. Thank you so much for coming! @cydharrell any time you want to talk about this

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