Resilience in Uncertain Times

My head is still spinning from attending MMANC’s annual conference on October 25-28 and OpenGov’s annual Transform virtual conference the next week on November 2-3. Both conferences have refocused and raised their sights this year. In prior years I expected a major focus on nuts-and-bolts topics, the mechanics of government operations. Technical topics like budgeting dominated the breakout sessions.

The keynote speaker at MMANC was the NYPD Chief of Interagency Operations, Theresa Tobin. This amazing leader was on duty during the twin towers attack, directly involved to the level that a piece of falling concrete cracked her safety helmet and long shard of window glass buried itself in her back, barely missing vital organs. She set the tone and inspired us all for a conference themed on Resilience and Public Engagement.

Bookending her opening session, David Fraser, Ed.D, closed us out with a talk about Highly Resilient Organizations (HROs), adaptive organizations that embrace specific principles that guide their operations. He led us through a discussion of his research defining a preoccupation with failure, reluctance to simplify, sensitivity to operations, deference to expertise, and commitment to resilience. He ended with a thought-provoking summary of assumptions that challenge resilience.

In a remarkable thematic alignment, OpenGov’s Transform was kicked off by public sector innovation thought leader Shonte Eldridge, Senior Director and Strategy Leader at DocuSign and former Deputy Chief of Operations for the City of Baltimore, MD.  She and Claudia Arriaga, Vice President of Customer Success for OpenGov, discussed how to remove the hurdles that are holding government leaders back, from outdated processes to under-performing technology, and more.

Over two days, sessions explored these topics in depth with an overall theme of resilience and taking action now in preparation for an uncertain civic future. As I write this on the eve of critical national elections the future of local funding, mandates, and oversite is very opaque, in an world where demands for government transparency and accountability do nothing but grow.

As I spin back down towards the real world, I will share my hope that the with McCann Consulting, I can offer a small degree of support to some of the good-hearted, hard-working government leaders trying to navigate these murky times and move their local communities forward.

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