Government Technology

Going Horizontal on Problem-Solving


Marina Leight
Marina Leight; photo by Nicolas Bakkie

August 20, 2013 By

Government agencies are specialized. They are supposed to be, and they've done a fairly good job over the years. But that was then and this is now, said Governing magazine's associate publisher for infrastructure Marina Leight, speaking at GTC West yesterday on something called "FutureStructure."

FutureStructure is a framework to solve problems. It is a new way of slicing and dicing problems and creating solutions across the entire government enterprise. Based on systems engineering principles, it cuts horizontally rather than vertically. The old specialized vertical silos, modeled on Industrial Age efficiencies, are falling short in coping with the challenges of community and change, she said.

Driving FutureStructure are such issues as aging infrastructure, government financial constraints, changing demographics, health-care reform, education reform, pensions and more. Also having an impact are the opportunities afforded by technology such as big data, mobility, ultra fast networks, location intelligence and remote sensors.

While governments think vertically in specialized silos, Leight said, citizens think horizontally. Citizens want the water and power to work as it should, the schools to be safe, the trash picked up, and potholes fixed.

So FutureStructure divides infrastructure into three categories or building blocks. Hard infrastructure is roads, water, power poles and so on. Soft infrastructure is things like ideas -- from the Declaration of Independence to a city building code. People are also soft infrastructure. And then you have technology, from hammer and chisel to modern digital technology.

One key difference is that in the vertical universe, people may notice a problem but decide it's "not their problem." In a horizontal approach, teams tackle problems and fix them.

The idea, of course, is to make better communities and better places for people to live and work. Of the three building blocks, soft is the most important, said Leight. Great mayors understand horizontal problem-solving, and the results are cities that people like to visit -- cities with a vibe, cities that work.

For the inaugural issue of Futurestructure, click here.


 


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Maintain Your IT Budget with Consistent Compliance Practices
Between the demands of meeting federal IT compliance mandates, increasing cybersecurity threats, and ever-shrinking budgets, it’s not uncommon for routine maintenance tasks to slip among state and local government IT departments. If it’s been months, or even only days, since you have maintained your systems, your agency may not be prepared for a compliance audit—and that could have severe financial consequences. Regardless of your mission, consistent systems keep your data secure, your age
Best Practice Guide for Cloud and As-A-Service Procurements
While technology service options for government continue to evolve, procurement processes and policies have remained firmly rooted in practices that are no longer effective. This guide, built upon the collaborative work of state and local government and industry executives, outlines and explains the changes needed for more flexible and agile procurement processes.
Fresh Ideas In Online Security for Public Safety Organizations
Lesley Carhart, Senior Information Security Specialist at Motorola Solutions, knows that online and computer security are more challenging than ever. Personal smartphones, removable devices like USB storage drives, and social media have a significant impact on security. In “Fresh Ideas in Online Security for Public Safely Organizations,” Lesley provides recommendations to improve your online security against threats from social networks, removable devices, weak passwords and digital photos.
View All

Featured Papers