If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

by William D. Eggers, John O'Leary

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The American people are frustrated with their government-dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown) that seems to just keep getting longer. Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.

We need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand-and avoid-the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.

The authors identify pitfalls including:

-The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution

-The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see

-Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation

-The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines

-The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781422155127
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 11/19/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

William D. Eggers is the Global Research Director for Deloitte's public-sector practice and Executive Director of its Public Leadership Institute, and a prolific author and columnist. John O'Leary is an expert in business process engineering and has extensive government and private-sector experience in companies including Scudder Kemper Investments, Lycos, and KPMG Peat Marwick.

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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon... Getting Big Things Done in Government 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
TomFairfaxStation More than 1 year ago
The authors offer a lot of insight into the workings of government. But having worked for over 30 years in a large corporation I find it largely applicable to my corporation as well. Well organized and logically presented. I did enjoy reading it. There was, in my opinion, one significant omission. As an example, Congress today will deliberately sabotage execution of a project, perhaps one passed before their time, by not funding it. It is a deliberate subversion of the execution process. I wish they had addressed this phenomenon.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Perhaps you’ve heard the old complaint: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we...?” This argument can apply to many challenges facing the US today. But help is on the way. Public policy experts William D. Eggers and John O’Leary have figured out an amusing way to discuss this very serious issue. They ask: Why does the US now seem unable to solve its most intractable problems? And their answers are discomfiting, though their jocular style may make you laugh and nod your head. They cite compelling examples – including the Challenger and Columbia disasters, Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war and Enron – to illustrate times when government worked and times when it didn’t. They find that democratic government is sown with seven “traps” that can keep its practitioners from getting crucial work done. But despair not! Here’s how good public administration can spring those traps open. getAbstract is confident this book will send policy makers, bureaucrats and concerned citizens over the moon.
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