Sharing best practices across an agency

Oftentimes federal workgroups innovate and/or develop best practices, but we do not share across systems. How do high-performing government agencies or private sector companies spread best practices to ensure integration? - Supervisor (GS-15), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Anyone who’s worked in a large organization can tell you how it is difficult to spread best practices effectively across organizational stovepipes. However, regardless of your agency’s size, geographic diffusion or IT systems, there are a number of strategies for how to best share information successfully.

The most high-performing organizations I’ve worked in or witnessed develop best practices as a result of their senior leaders setting clear expectations that employees should be sharing their knowledge across their agency.

While online tools are useful, the most effective way to share information is still through face-to-face contact, and our federal government has a number of avenues to help connect you with colleagues.

If we take the federal IT community as an example, there are several opportunities for sharing best practices including officially sanctioned communities like the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council, professional associations, or external networking groups like my organization’s (the Partnership for Public Service) Strategic Advisors to Government Executives program, which connects senior-level IT executives in government with their predecessors in the private sector.

You might also consider building your own group within your agency. Start by talking with others who are working on similar projects and then organize a coffee or brown bag lunch to begin sharing best practices.

A web-based database can be helpful in facilitating this process also, so that teams can share project-oriented best practices and lessons learned in a consistent format. If you get really ambitious, you could also work with your internal information management team to figure out the best ways of using an existing Intranet or SharePoint site as means of storing and sharing information with a broader audience.

Federal managers, how have you effectively shared best practices within your agency and across the federal government? Please share your ideas by adding a comment below, or by sending an email to me at fedcoach@ourpublicservice.org.

More from On Leadership:

How to become a great federal leader

Rocking the boat in federal agencies

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Tom Fox, of the Partnership for Public Service, explores workplace issues and provides advice for federal managers through analysis, interviews and reader Q&As in his Federal Coach blog for On Leadership.

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