Elevating government performance: an exclusive interview with Michael Jacobson
In the PERFORMANCE Magazine Issue No. 27, 2023 – Government Edition, The KPI Institute was given the opportunity to connect with Michael Jacobson, Deputy Director for Performance and Strategy in King County’s Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget, through a written interview and discuss government strategy and performance management, focusing on people, processes, and public service.
TKI: What key trends have shaped the public sector in recent years, and how have they influenced governmental practices and policies?
Jacobson: Increasing complexity and cross-sectoral issues: the hardest problems to solve are not technical or even financial but cut across multiple sectors and social dimensions. They also require political agreement or at least alignment. The public sector cannot solve issues like homelessness, climate change, or poverty alone. The need for cross-sectoral collaboration is required.
Demographics: this applies to the increasing diversity of the populations we serve and the changing expectations of new generations and their relationship to work, especially if they want to work in the public sector. This requires a more racially diverse workforce and a more responsive stance as an employer to adapt to changing market conditions. This has also reinforced the need for governments to improve equity in services and policies (process, distributional, and results).
Accountability and limited resources: increased public accountability and constrained resources have required governments to focus on management systems, including performance management and Lean, to deliver results.
TKI: In your observations in general, what do you think about how well governments manage their performance in terms of strategy planning and performance monitoring?
Jacobson: Some are doing a fantastic job developing strategic plans, cascading strategy down to the organization, and tracking performance to targets. Some are doing little of these things and primarily reacting to issues. The majority are doing one or two major planning and monitoring efforts, maybe inconsistently or in specific departments only and not at an enterprise scale.
A complete strategic planning-monitoring-improvement cycle (or a complete Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle) is not a small thing. It has taken us years to have the key elements in place at the enterprise level in King County. There are still many opportunities to improve, whether using targets more consistently or being more results-focused when performance differs from where it needs to be.
Dive deeper into Jacobson’s perspectives on the latest trends in strategy and performance management in the government sector today. Check out the cover story of the newest issue of PERFORMANCE Magazine. Visit the TKI Marketplace for a free digital copy and Amazon for an additional printed version of the magazine.