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The 3 C’s of Gaining a Business Perspective About Government

by Landon Cook, on Jul 14, 2020 3:30:00 PM

As an industry, government is frequently and easily misunderstood. There is no “School for Government.” Most studies into the industry tend to be focused entirely on politics, policies, or budgets. Interestingly enough, government seems to embrace this! Government can be very challenging (and even a little intimidating) to approach and navigate given their tendency to be both elusive with information and selective with partnerships.

So how can businesses get perspective about government? The short answer: it’s all about context. As one of six parts in this series titled “Business with Government: Doing More Work, Better” you will learn to navigate governmental complexity through three core concepts:

  1. Competition
  2. Cooperation
  3. Culture

Government is one of the largest industries in the United States, with federal revenue alone exceeding a whopping 16% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year. Even well beyond its purchasing power, government’s reach is massive. It remains one of the only industries that perpetually plays a role in every citizen’s life. As the saying goes, “only two things are certain: Death and Taxes.”

Politics aside, this vast and overwhelming scope of government’s size and the role it plays in our lives can only mean that more work and better work needs to be done in this industry. Here’s the bottom line: How can partners help address government’s needs if they never get to engage? How can they even talk with industry leaders if they’re not able to first listen to what makes them tick? Here’s the perspective you need:

  1. Competition: have you ever noticed how quickly the quality of roads and signs change (for better…or worse) when you cross state lines? The boundaries of state and local government operations have always been precisely defined within their borders and programs. Funding for each state and local government comes from the same pot of money, and historically agencies have had to compete against one another for their slice of the pie. However, this zero-sum game is changing: government’s work is already transforming in the digital era. This means that competition, though still prevalent between governments, is giving way to cooperation…
  2. Cooperation: although government operations are highly restrictive, the opportunity to collaborate is far more fluid. Inter-agency collaboration is increasing and more encouraged than ever, and this unique element offers practically limitless cooperation across governments. This is critically important for private partners of government, as the circle of trust (and distrust) among agencies has tremendous untapped potential for influencers. As the work of government is already changing, this evolution into cooperation is also rapidly changing the culture of government.
  3. Culture: there is no single government culture. Having recently moved from Nashville to New York City, I noticed that one is almost singularly focused on attracting and building businesses within its borders (hint: it ain’t New York City). However, there are two unique elements that are consistent throughout government that dramatically shape its culture:

    - Rules and regulations dominate decisions-making, and;
    - Service to citizens defines purpose.

In other words: rules and regulations are the property and fences, and serving citizens is the home. Of course, these elements may vary in scope and priority based on each agency’s role, yet partners should take the time to anticipate and understand the integral importance of these unique cultural elements. Rules and service absolutely shape how governments operate and interact with the public, and they must not be overlooked or underestimated.

Government is certainly among the most important and rewarding industries to work with. As citizens, it has a large and personal impact on our day to day lives. Every one of us participates in government in some capacity; however, as business entities, it can be one of the most difficult industries to access and understand. With attention and expertise, partners can equip themselves not only better approach government: they can begin to build successful communications and business partnerships within this space of tremendous opportunity and need. Learning how to better support our government together makes a more efficient and meaningful tomorrow.

Written by Landon Cook

Landon Cook is a proven change leader and future-maker. Landon shaped his career within state government, where he inspired the art of the possible by leading and executing the challenge to implement Customer Service Management (CSM) on the ServiceNow platform. Learn more about Landon's expertise and meet the rest of our ServiceNow Partner team! 

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Topics:Build TrustTransform GovernmentBusiness with Government: Doing More Work, Better

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