Jun 05 2009

Building a dam that’s bound to break

by at 9:53 am under Uncategorized

For those of us who have gone through the experience, it’s not just a rumor that the hiring process for the federal government is atrociously slow and daunting. It seems all the more ironic since so many people are currently looking for jobs and politicians are focusing on the creation of jobs to stimulate the economy.  Instead of looking at why it’s so slow, I’m going to introduce the key actors and propose a new relationship structure that could eventually result in effective changes.

First of all we have the potential employees trying to get jobs and ending up stuck at the mercy of The Man.  Bureaucrats control the system and look to keep the status quo; they avoid risk from law suits at a high cost of inefficiency. Political figures have control over the bureaucracy and can force change. Advocates and think tanks can identify problems and come up with innovations and solutions. News media also plays a role in the political process as well creating hype and momentum.

There are several relationships that keep things from changing, however. Citizens have no direct power over the bureaucrats. The bureaucrats themselves are slow to change and can even make processes worse when the proper pressure is not applied by political powers. Advocates might have good ideas, but they have little to no influence on the system itself. Political figures can tap advocates and the bureaucrats to change the system, but they risk spending their time and political capital on something their constituents might not care about. Here’s where things get interesting. The potential employees are also constituents and therefore very powerful over the politicians.
The strategy for persuasion relies on sequencing and an opportunity structure similar to the existing  structure. A change to the hiring system is something that can’t forced by an outsider — it needs to happen on its own.  But, we can help make minor tweaks to the network so the major hiring system revision happens sooner than later. First we build connections between citizens and the advocates as a place for citizens to vent and document their frustrations. The advocates collect moving stories and factual, telling statistics. The advocates keep preparing their stories, statistics, and potential solutions like a dam that keeps filling up as a river pours into it.  They build up pressure with solutions in hand ready to be presented.

Then one politically heated incident of someone not getting a job because of the dreadful system will be picked up by the news media and perpetuated, breaking the dam. The advocates release their fuel and step forward with the solution.  The politicians hear the collected stories of their constituents, take the advocates’ solution as their own, and demand the bureaucrats make the fix. Everyone has jobs, the economy recovers, and peace ensues happily ever after.

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