Randy Pennington, Author of Make Change Work, Says Government Leaders Could Have Avoided the Shut down If They Knew How to Lead Change

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According to Randy Pennington, author of Make Change Work, the seeds of the current government shutdown were sown years ago through a lack of leadership within the federal government. Our current state of turmoil could have been avoided if government leaders knew how to make change work.

Make Change Work by Randy Pennington

Imagine what would be different today if government had decided to operate faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier 10 years ago. It is doubtful that the Tea Party would have even come into existence.

Randy Pennington, author of the new book Make Change Work, believes that the Tea Party movement and the current government shutdown might never have happened if the federal government and its leaders had adapted to a changing environment on its own.

Pennington says, “Government has traditionally operated from a binary mentality that says you either raise taxes or you reduce service levels. That model has led us to where we are today. The Tea Party movement came into being out of a concern that the federal government couldn’t keep its financial house in order and had lost touch with its citizens. Imagine what would be different today if government had decided to operate faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier 10 years ago. It is doubtful that the Tea Party would even exist today.”

According to Pennington, the elected officials from both parties are not fulfilling their responsibility to lead during the current crisis. He sees the stalemate between the right and the left as the result of two factors:
1.    Leaders who are maintaining entrenched positions that reflect their respective bases but not the country as a whole; and,
2.    The misguided belief that the only options to fixing government are to cut taxes or cut services.

“Citizens deserve a different option – one that gives them high-value services at a price they are willing to pay. At its core, this shutdown is about responsive government, not just ObamaCare. Imagine what would be different today if 10 years ago government at all levels had created a culture where everyone did things faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier?”

“Carrollton, Texas is an excellent model for a government that has changed how it operates,” says Pennington. “Staffing decreased from 939 positions in 1995 to 843 positions in 2009 as the population increased by over 25 percent. Most important, the city has maintained service levels and citizen satisfaction remains high. All of this was accomplished as the city’s governing council held the tax rate steady – even during the economic challenges of 2009 – 2010.”

Pennington says that at the heart of the transformation is a culture where everyone is committed to doing things faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier.

He shares three factors that drove the transformation in his book, Make Change Work:
1.    A strategic goal to operate the city as a service business. This goal - set and sustained by its elected officials since 2001 - serves as a constant expectation for urgency and continuous improvement.
2.    The successful creation of a managed competition process that requires departments to “earn their keep” every three years by showing that they are substantially competitive with the cost of the private sector to deliver the same type and level of service.
3.    A commitment to transforming and sustaining the culture so that every person sees continuous change as the great opportunity rather than the latest management buzzword or fad.

Pennington realizes that the type of change he is suggesting is unlikely to take hold in the current environment. “There is a lack of respect for the process and the participants on both sides of the shutdown argument. Someone will blink, and we can move past the immediate crisis of the shutdown. Sooner or later, both sides have to find a way to change how government operates, or we will be doomed to the current destructive cycle of partisanship.”

About the Randy Pennington

Randy Pennington is a 20+-year business performance veteran, author, and consultant. He has worked with leading organizations including Transamerica Life & Protection, First Texas Bancorp, SmithBucklin, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Texas A&M University, Marathon Oil, Sprint, Albermarle, Progressive Insurance, and DFW Airport in addition to government agencies at the local, state, and national level. Randy is also 15-time teaching excellence award winning instructor in the Cox Business Leadership Center at Southern Methodist University. His ideas and comments have appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Executive Excellence, on CNN, Fox News, the BBC, ABC radio, and numerous professional and trade journals. He is author of two previous books: Results Rule! which received the Best Book Award from USA Book News in 2007 and On My Honor, I Will: The Journey to INTEGRITY-DRIVEN Leadership. For more information, visit http://www.penningtongroup.com/make-change-work/.

Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change (Wiley; July 2013; Hardcover & E-Book; ISBN: 978-1118617465; $22.95).

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