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Managing Strategically: A Thought Process for Federal Managers

By Donald ’Donnie’ Matlock , Amy Squires

Federal managers are expected to advance measurable progress against an increasing number of competing demands, but making sense of these demands can often be overwhelming. This paper attempts to address challenges by outlining a thought process for federal managers to make strategic decisions.

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As part of our ongoing effort to promote good management practices and evidence-based decision making, MITRE embarked on a study to examine how managers can make daily decisions that accommodate these emergent demands and then determine whether those decisions are making a difference for the people they serve.

In addition to an exhaustive literature review, MITRE’s study included dozens of interviews with current and former government officials and leading public-administration subject matter experts. It revealed that managers at all levels of the federal government would benefit from a defined thought process that could be used throughout their day to perceive, interpret, and address emergent demands strategically, consistently, and continuously. The thought process could also be used to help managers establish and address competing priorities.

Whether managers choose to walk through a lengthy process with multiple stakeholders or simply take 20 seconds before the start of each meeting, going through the thought process can help them to build intention and align their organization’s activities with the organization’s strategic ends for the country.