ELGL in Austin: Dispatches from the Texas Governing Leadership Forum

ELGL in Austin: Dispatches from the Texas Governing Leadership Forum

Dispatch #7: Thursday, May 19 @ 2:00 – “A Digital Public Demands Digital Public Services”


Notes from the session:

  • Presenters are Steve Hurst and Chad Darbyshire; topic is design and research related to digitizing government.
  • Steve Hurst is with Accenture Public Services, which has conducted research on the public’s expectations for digital services from government.  Most notably, the findings show that the public wants government to be as sophisticated as private sector; there’s no “pass” for being a public agency when it comes to what people want from government digital services.
  • Steps toward a digital transformation:
    • Make the next citizen-facing service you deploy incredibly good
    • Make one worker app that is incredibly good
    • Build on piece of really powerful insight
  • “Challenge yourself to make government digital services delightful.” What a happy little thought! Chad Darbyshire is with Chaotic Moon Studios. Kicking off his portion of the presentation by talking about internet of things and how that relates to government.
  • Darbyshire says he can’t disclose the technologies/services that his firm develops because of non-disclosure agreements. A little challenging to participate in a panel about cool digital projects when you can’t talk about them…
  • Whew. Darbyshire quoting ‘Silicon Valley’ so even though he can’t talk about any of his client work, I still want to listen.
  • Global market for wearable devices grew 223% in 2015. Darbyshire draws a comparison back to local government and the services we provide – we know that people expect government to be as sophisticated as private sector as it relates to digital services.
  • Some examples of internet of things (IOT) in public sector:
    • Earthquake early warning system in Japan
    • Shakealert – a CA attempt to emulate Japan
    • Project WIN (Agriculture) – CA water shortages
    • Firecast 2.0 System (Firefighting) – fire inspection and sensors in NYC
    • Smart Grids; Smart Water – big data with weather forecasts to allocate repair/service
    • BigBelly – waste management
    • SCALE (Safe Community Alert Network) – sensors to read smoke, heat, CO2, etc.
    • The Array of Things – sensors on light poles

Dispatch #6: Thursday, May 19 @ 1:00


Notes from the “Hiring & Retaining Great Employees in the Public Sector” session:

  • Do you ever go to local government conferences and want to do high kicks and air punches because you’re learning from such amazing and talented people? No? Just me? Hmmmm.  Well, that’s how I felt after sitting on the panel today with Jennifer, and Noel. They’re smart, savvy and cool. They’re the perfect ambassadors for government service!
  • Lots of great questions from the audience, including:IMG_3818
    • What’s the best way to create a culture of feedback and milestones?
    • How do local governments most effectively implement succession plans?
    • What types of organizational assessments work best in government?
    • Are there any key words for job descriptions and recruitments that we should be using?
  • A big “welcome” to our new members who are signing up with their Governing discount code at elgl.org/membership.
  • Here are some of the resources we discussed (will add to this list as I finish compiling items from the discussion).
    • This is the TED talk on how government does a crappy job of marketing anything to the public:
    • Slack is the team networking tool that we discussed.
    • Here’s a link to the accrual spreadsheet.
    • Here’s the link if you want more “I survived a meeting that should have been an email” ribbons
    • Forthcoming: presentation from the City of Lake Oswego, OR team about eliminating performance evaluations.
    • Forthcoming: Jennifer’s sample survey on leadership development.

Dispatch #5: Thursday, May 19 @ 11:00

Notes from the mid-morning session:

  • Realized that I didn’t bring paper copies of my accrual spreadsheet that I intend to talk about in my upcoming concurrent session.  Here’s a link to the spreadsheet.
  • Next up is Tim Paydos from IBM. He’s talking about case studies for local and state government.
  • According to Paydos, “cognitive analytics” are the next generation of analytics. He says that information management and analytics are becoming more glamorous as they become more important.
  • Paydos describes how public and private entities worked together to use multiple data points to quickly apprehend the Boston Marathon bombers.
  • “We are living in the age of disruption…” Paydos analysis of the sharing economy is that the largest companies are not actually providing the services they offer (e.g. Uber, AirBnB, Alibaba, Facebook).
  • Hearing from someone like Paydos is a meaningful experience for government to realize the important intersection between private sector companies (like IBM) and public sector work.

Dispatch #4: Thursday, May 19 @ 10:00


Notes from the morning opening sessions:

  • Sadly, ELGL’s bestie Julia Burrows didn’t make the trip to Texas. I’m sad to miss her smiling face, but luckily The Funk is here to fill in for her.
  • Chris Connelly, the Texas State Fire Marshall kicked off the day. He is a Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year, and is known for his hard work at ensuring that arson convictions that were based on faulty science or investigations are reinvestigated and overturned. He’s also an effective, jolly cheerleader for public service. A great start to the day.
  • Rebecca Ryan up now. She’s a “futurist” who tells the audience that this is not about having the latest technology, but instead, about recognizing what is timeless. She runs a “futurist camp” where there’s no wifi, but there are bonfires, because “bonfires are timeless.” Not gonna lie, am a little bit skeptical.
  • Ryan defines “intergenerational equity” as being morally correct for one generation to make decisions that do not affect future generations. Uses analogy of parents buying a huge house, signing children onto promissory note, and then dying and leaving the mortgage for the children to deal with.
  • Some of the futurist concepts that Ryan shares with the audience: smart onesies, smart cars, drones, Bridj, HandUp. Says that these are disrupting civic life.

Dispatch #3: Thursday, May 19 @ 8:00

I have arrived in Austin! Flew in yesterday afternoon and was greeted at baggage claim by Barbara Jordan. Oh, Texas – just when I prejudice you, you remind me that you have some lovely people in your history.


Had to take a cab from the airport. You may have read that Uber and Lyft aren’t allowed in Austin anymore. I had to snap a picture of the cab because this would not meet Kent Wyatt’s expectations of airport transportation:


Took this photo outside of a music venue in downtown Austin. Mostly to showcase that I only packed Oregon shoes and not appropriate Texas boots:


Then I walked over to the State Capitol grounds for a #statecapitolselfie and a tour of the gorgeous building. Also nerdily wondered why all the windows had little signs on them (it’s for a scheduled renovation) and enjoyed learning about all of the Texas governors (my favorite is, and always will be, Ann Richards):


















Here are two interesting historical markers I ran into:



Everywhere I go, I always run into Segway Tourists. While I’m sure that it’s a great way to tour and learn about a city, I would never be able to go on a Segway tour because I would always be on the lookout for people like me, who take pictures of Segway Tourists and then tweet or blog about them:


I ended my tour of Austin on 6th Street. A very impressive assortment of restaurants and bars, all with live music. Because I eat dinner early (so I can go to bed early), there weren’t many people out and in some cases, the musicians were singing to an empty house. That’s dedication! I stopped in at the Driskill Bar for happy hour and enjoyed the official cocktail of Austin – the Batini. It was delicious. So far, I’m smitten with Austin. It’s quirky and fun and clean. I’ll be sharing updates from the Governing Forum today, both here on the blog, and using #govlive on Twitter!




Dispatch #2: Wednesday, May 18 @ 1:01

I’m currently in flight to Austin, posting cool stuff for ELGL and reviewing the agenda for the Texas Governing Leadership Forum (and having a minor passive aggressive battle for elbow room).

Here’s my conference game plan: I’ll attend all of the general sessions (naturally) and of course my own session during the morning concurrent block.

In the afternoon, I’ll be attending this panel. Take a look at the session description and let me know if you have any questions for Steve and Chad; I’ll be sure to ask them for you. And of course, I’ll be tweeting from @elgl50 and @kowyatt using the conference hashtag #govlive:

Government Disrupted: A Digital Public Demands Digital Public Services 

According to a recent survey by Accenture, citizens are ready, willing and waiting for government to match the digital capabilities they experience in the rest of their lives. How can we close this digital gap? Featuring real-world cases, this hands-on session will illustrate how user-centered design and innovation (and a little chaos theory) can help governments rethink the citizen service experience and meet the expectations of digital public.

Steve Hurst, North American Lead for Digital Government, Accenture

Dispatch #1: Tuesday, May 17 @ 10:41

ELGL heads to the Lone Star State on Wednesday, May 18 for the Texas Governing Leadership Forum. About the forum:

Governing returns to Austin for the sixth annual Texas Governing Leadership Forum set for May 19, 2016. The Lone Star State is a national leader in job growth and economic diversification, yet faces challenges that come with prosperity and uncertainty. Nearly 600 new residents call Texas home each day, testing state and local leaders to find solutions to infrastructure financing, labor supply, and educational disparities. Public sector retirements, technology investments, and citizen engagement bring new opportunities for government transformation. Texans are resilient and their citizens are ready for a future of lively debate followed by innovative solutions.

Kirsten Wyatt, Jennifer Jones, and Noel Hollis are sharing the mic for a panel discussion on “Hiring and Retaining Great Employees in the Public Sector.” Here’s their panel description:

Workforce development and succession planning are among the foremost concerns for government agencies and jurisdictions across the country. With huge waves of baby-boomers retiring and not enough young people entering – or staying in – public service, governments face a brain drain issue on the one hand, and a shortage of new talent who could contribute fresh ideas on the other. Public sector HR departments are under pressure to modernize their recruitment and hiring processes and to create an appealing, 21st century workplace. This means not only new technologies and policies to attract millennials and manage a younger, mobile workforce; it also requires an increased focus on management training to ensure that promoted employees are equipped with the skills and tools they need to manage a high-performance, modern public workforce.

Watch this post for updates leading up to and from Texas as ELGL does its part to “Keep Austin Weird.

Supplemental Reading