If there is one thing most of us can agree on is that government institutions are long overdue for an organizational change. Whether it is a simple license renewal or important permits and documents, the process is never clear, short or easy. And with the recent growth of agile popularity, there is really no surprise that talks of agile government are all around us. However the question is – whether agile is ready for the government and is the government ready for agile?
The short answer to both of these questions is a simple no. Agile is still a relatively new practice that has not yet been applied to the government environment on the large scale and the government changes take too much time and effort to be banking on something so fresh. To make it just a little bit clearer, as of now, there are exactly three main underlying issues with fully implementing an agile government.
The fear of change
The first and probably the most difficult issue with agile within the governmental structure is beating the habits. Our institutions have deep rooted traditions and customs on how things are supposed to be done. Whether it makes sense in the current day and age or not, they are all built upon a grand structure that is not supposed to be messed with. The ones who know this better than anyone else are the government employees themselves and it is them that have the hardest time moving onto something new and abandoning the well-known. They are actually one of the key reasons the changes are yet to come.
The lack of knowledge
Another big issue lies within the fact that an average government official knows little to nothing about agile. While the business world is constantly looking for better and greater practices, the government often lags behind, in other words, they are the ultimate late adopters. So even now, when agile is taking over the corporate world, most institutions are hearing about it for the absolutely first time. Furthermore, the information they get is about private businesses and mostly the IT sector, which creates an illusion that there is no possible way of adopting these ideas to other fields.
The lack of tools
The last issue with the agile government is the lack of practices and tools. While there are multiple frameworks and approaches to bring agile into marketing, sales, accounting, finance and multiple other fields, there is no real approach of adopting it to the government. So even if an institution wants to become agile, they are lacking guidance on how do so. And when faced with a choice of trying to innovate or sticking with the old and proven methods most of them choose the latter.
However, despite the issues, there is a great need for change within the structure and this need is actually coming from within. The institutions are starting to look for better and more precise practices in order to be more adaptive and reactive to the society’s needs. Furthermore, some examples of agile being very helpful in managing tough situations are already here. In fact, they are not only here, but also talking about one of the more famous government fail of the past few years – healthcare.gov.
The original site of this initiative what not only faulty, it also cost a ton of money to maintain. So when an agile proficient team took over, they knew their goal was not only to fix it, but to also eliminate waste. The remarkable results they were able to achieve are now an example to everyone else within this field of what can be done. And as long as initiatives such as agile government leaders’ handbook are happening, we are well on our way into a better and more efficient future.