Author: nxtgov

Statement of Qualifications Workshops

Statement of Qualifications Workshops

By Courtney King, NxtGov Member

In May I had the opportunity to provide two workshops on the Statement of Qualifications writing process organized by NxtGov’s Professional Development team and hosted by the Department of General Services (DGS). If you were in attendance, thank you! It was awesome to meet you.

I currently work in Talent Acquisition for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), but these presentations were informed more from my position as a former college writing instructor. Before I came to state service, I taught English language and writing courses at universities across America as well as in China. My focus in these courses was on making writing more accessible for people who had feared it in the past. In Demystifying SOQs Part A (Slides | Handout), I tried to address the SOQ writing task as I would a writing prompt in my classroom: by analyzing the audience, author, and purpose. All writing tasks are more manageable if we know why we’re writing and who we’re writing for.

The SOQ can be a particularly challenging assignment because it feels like yet another generic hoop for busy applicants, but this document serves a very specific purpose in the larger picture of your application. When we can reframe our approach and put ourselves in the shoes of our hiring managers, we can be more successful in communicating our fit for the position. With a better understanding of why hiring managers require this document and what they’re looking for, applicants can approach the task with more confidence (and with confidence comes better writing).

In Demystifying SOQs Part B (Slides | Handout) we explored the features of the SOQ prompt as a genre. Many candidates lament the time it takes to create their SOQ from scratch (especially if you find out about the job on the final filing date), so we looked at ways we can prepare for upcoming SOQs by doing some of the writing beforehand. Using AntConc, I analyzed 50 SOQ prompts for shared language. Unsurprisingly, experience and abilities are asked for in almost every SOQ prompt.

Why do we care about word frequencies? The jobs you apply for may differ, but you remain you, with all your accomplishments and skills just waiting to be described. This is why creating a repository of the specific work tasks that illustrate key qualifications can significantly speed up our SOQ writing process and add some calmness and control to an otherwise stressful experience. Lastly, we shared some predictable sentence structures we can use to simplify our writing (all available on the handout).

This second talk also afforded me the opportunity to conduct a peer review and talk one-on-one with applicants about their experiences with the state hiring process. It was so inspiring to see the crowd chatting and workshopping their applications, adding so much value with their different perspectives.

Thank you to everyone who shared their lunch with me last month. I hope you all land the state job of your dreams!

Courtney King is a NxtGov member and a Talent Acquisition Analyst at CalSTRS. Connect with her on LinkedIn!

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2019 California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) Scholarship Award Opportunity for one lucky NxtGov Member!

2019 California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) Scholarship Award Opportunity for one lucky NxtGov Member!

Registration is now open for Cohort 2019 of the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA).

NxtGov is excited to announce that registration is open for the Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2019! This program aims to transform government with enterprise innovations that Cal-IPGCA teams and their departmental Champions are deploying right now – Watch for updates! You have the opportunity to join this effort! We are pleased to announce that NxtGov can award one $2,850 scholarship for attendance in this 5- Month program. The program and registration under “LEARN MORE” below will guide you through the details of this 5-month journey.


Cal-IPGCA is a leadership and innovation training program unlike any other available to state employees. Six teams are assigned one of six statewide Innovation Priorities/problems to create Moonshot solutions with 10x improvement. Top state and industry leadership host a monthly 2-hour “Change Challenge Forums”, which give insight and guidance to team Innovation

Priorities. Final moonshot presentations are presented to State leaders on the final day of the program. Between the instructional days, offsite video instruction from state leadership on CalHR’s 9 Leadership Values teach personal, professional and innovative team growth.


Cal-IPGCA is designed for line staff who are rising stars with management potential, first line supervisors, middle managers, executives, and executive leadership. Each Cal-IPGCA Cohort creates a multi-generational, multi- cultural and multi-professional environment of change, integrating and synergizing participation across all levels of government classroom and work environments. And the 62 Professional Development Hours for full-time trainees meets the State of California’s biennial leadership training requirements. (GC 19995.4.)


There are many more reasons why you should attend or send staff to the Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2019. Here is a link to a Cal-IPGCA Fact Sheet of important features and objectives for consideration. The full program and
 online registration are linked here. For more information, you can connect to Cal- IPGCA’s Training website, KollaborNation. Should you have questions, please email program chair, Rebekah Christensen at

Join us as a Change Leader and Innovator! This is a training program that will continue to produce results for you, your staff and your organization!

The Cal-IPGCA Association has a key role in this year’s Cohort. We think we are going to break new ground in change leadership and innovation! As an NxtGov member, if you want to learn more about the training program and/or join the Cal-IPGCA Association as a member, come to our Taco ‘Bout a Fiesta celebration on June 6 from 5:30-7:30 PM in Midtown. Here’s the flyer for logistics and registration.

NxtGov is proud to partner with Cal-IPGCA! We value the contribution Cal-IPGCA continues to make in pioneering innovation and change in state service. It takes all of us, working together as partners, to support each other’s efforts to assure real change and innovation occurs. Equally important, we are excited to be able to have a

NxtGov member participate in Cohort 2019.

This scholarship will be awarded by NxtGov no later than June 29. You must be a subscribed member of NxtGov to qualify for the scholarship.

What’s Next for NxtGov?

What’s Next for NxtGov?

Learn more about our plans to develop NxtGov from a thriving grassroots community into an inclusive and sustainable organization.

With hundreds of members and growing, NxtGov has embarked upon an incredible journey over the past couple of years to become the strong community it is today. So where do we go from here? How do we build upon our momentum to do even greater things?

With these questions in mind, I’m pleased to present the NxtGov Strategic Plan 2019-2021 which will help guide NxtGov toward a bright future in the years to come. This plan was developed by the NxtGov Executive Team to set the strategic direction for our organization to realize its mission. Our goals include attracting and retaining members and partners, ensuring our organization runs smoothly, and develop NxtGov from a thriving grassroots community into an inclusive and sustainable organization.

I want to share how proud I am of the Executive Team in living out NxtGov’s values as we developed the strategic plan together. Their forward-thinking and collaborative approach resulted in a solid foundation upon which the organization can continue to grow. In addition to all their usual work of coordinating events and opportunities for our members, the Executive Team came together in March and April to conduct an environmental scan and align on visionary goals and action plans that will take NxtGov to the next level.

This kind of planning is critical as we develop from a grassroots startup into a nonprofit organization. Shortly before the development of the strategic plan, NxtGov was officially registered as a nonprofit in the State of California and is now in the process of filing as a nonprofit with the federal government as well. This process has allowed us to solidify who we are as an organization and what value we offer to public servants and government operations.

I hope you will take the opportunity to review the NxtGov Strategic Plan 2019-2021 and learn about all the ways to get involved in NxtGov and contribute to the community we are building together.

Danielle Metzinger
Deputy Director, NxtGov

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Paths to Public Service Featuring Nathalie Nguyen

Paths to Public Service Featuring Nathalie Nguyen

Name: Nathalie Nguyen
Job Title: Council Specialist, Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council
Recommended Reading: George Orwell’s 1987 or any book of the Harry Potter Series
Spirit Animal: Sea Otters
Song stuck in your head right now OR Song you wish you didn’t like: Baby Shark Doo- Doo

What was your path into public service?

When I graduated college, I had dreams of going to law school and working in a corporate firm. Before I made that journey, I ended up applying for a fellowship with a push from a mentor. The decision landed me in Sacramento interning at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. I was only supposed to stay in Sacramento for a year, but 4 years later I’ve made it my home.

During the fellowship I knew nothing about the State application process. I had a mentor who told me that I should apply because he knew the state needed young people to come in and create change. Innovation was highly sought after in the State, and the idea that I could receive a paycheck while making a difference was a highly motivating factor for me.  

After graduation, 35 applications, and 7 interviews I landed a job with the Department of Social Services as an analyst working on issues surrounding foster care. I had no idea what I stepped into because I had no experience with or knew anyone in foster care, but I did know that I was willing to learn and be a part of the conversation. I was most excited about the chance to provide input to policies that affected our youth.

When I was at Social Services, one of the projects that I am proudest of was a social media campaign working to recruit younger demographics to become caregivers, foster parents, and mentors to young adults and children in care. I spearheaded the project, working with a communications company to formulate a message that would resonate with an average person who never thought of themselves as being a caregiver, analyzed social media analytics, and managed various social platforms we used to insert and project our campaign messages. The project made me realize that the State was moving in the direction of innovation, social media, and technology.  

The biggest reason I have stayed in public service (besides the retirement) is the ability to help and advocate for those who otherwise cannot. This is the greatest privilege I feel has been given to me in public service, and I feel blessed everyday to be in this platform. I never take it for granted that this opportunity has landed on my lap.  

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now?

I currently work for the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council as the Council Specialist. The Council is comprised of 19 members and includes State agency representatives, stakeholder appointed members, and partners. I staff all 19 members and the 4 other Council staff. In this role, I plan and execute Council meetings, which happen quarterly and are open to the public. My responsibilities include logistics; coordinating with panels, staff, the public, presenters; and anything else that is needed to execute a successful Council meeting.

In between Council meetings, I work behind the scenes to ensure the Council’s work is continuing when it is not outward facing to the public. This involves working with the Council member’s key staff on day-to-day projects. Together we work to ensure that various state agencies representing the Council are meeting state mandates and have policies in place that are consistent with helping efforts to end homelessness.

The job is rewarding because I feel like I am making a difference in what feels like the State’s biggest problem currently. The crisis is never ending, but I am happy to be contributing to an important cause and conversation. Everyday is a challenge, but a good one.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service?

Expect to be patient. The State unfortunately is slow when it comes to processing applications and can often take months. Some departments will process applications, schedule the interview and exam, but may not make their decision until weeks later. If you aren’t in a hurry to get a job with the State, the right fit will come with patience and time on your side.

What resources/advice/practice did you find most helpful when applying for jobs in public service?

I always encourage people that they should apply to jobs that interest them or have a passion for. Never apply for a job just to have a job. Life is more rewarding when your job doesn’t feel like a chore.

Take the time to look around the various state websites. Sometimes it’s just a simple google. Read about the work they are doing on their website. Does their mission align with yours? Do their values align with yours? Do they advocate for platforms that you truly believe in?

Once you take the time to research the department, visit their job recruitment page. More than likely they are hiring and if not, put it on your list and check back frequently.

If you can or know someone who works there – maybe take the time to schedule an informational interview to find out if the working environment is a good fit for you. Even if you don’t know anyone, don’t be afraid to ask during your interview what the working environment is like, what the team hat you will be working with is like, and what type of manager the person believes they are. Interviews and job applications aren’t just about finding a job, but also ensuring that both parties are the right fit for each other.

If you have resources outside of the web, use them. It’s a simple ask if anyone is hiring when you meet someone whose work aligns with yours. They can refer you to jobs or keep you in mind when they come up.

The very most important thing in looking for a public service job: PATIENCE. Be patient. The right job and right fit will come along when the time is right.

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Searching for the Invisible

Searching for the Invisible

NxtGov’s Participation in the Homeless Point-in-Time Count

By Kelly Joy, NxtGov Member

In January, the Community Engagement Team at NxtGov participated in Sacramento’s Point-in-Time count of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness throughout the region. The PIT count relies on hundreds of local volunteers to canvas set geographic areas throughout the county, and every volunteer directly contributes to making the PIT count as accurate and successful as possible. The information obtained during the PIT count gives not only valuable insight into the needs of a vulnerable population, but also potentially increases state and federal funding resources available in the community. Without enough trained volunteers, there are fewer people counted, which means the stories of those people are not heard and their needs are less likely to be met. NxtGov volunteers joined with staff members of the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council and other representatives of state and local government to walk the streets of Sacramento and count the number of people experiencing unsheltered homeless. I was one of the NxtGov members who were proud to participate in such an important event for the community, and happy that our efforts helped make this important event a successful one.

There were dozens of groups of volunteers that walked the streets of Sacramento during the 2019 PIT count. The group I walked with surveyed a northern region in Sacramento’s “grid” area. We interviewed almost twenty people who were sleeping without shelter. We encountered even more that we were unable to interview.

One of the first people we interviewed was sitting on a bench at the light rail station. She said that one thing she would want to change about the homelessness system is the judgment and lack of dignity for people experiencing homelessness. “Sometimes we need a hug to get through it all. Just someone to care,” she said. She added that she felt blessed by God to be where she was in that moment to talk to people who cared to hear her story.

There were two young adults who didn’t “look homeless” by a stereotypical definition, but we interviewed them to make sure. They were both living on the streets. One got emotional and asked if we knew somewhere he could take a shower. I thanked them for their time when we finished the interviews and told them the information they provided would really make a difference. “You promise?” one of the men asked. I replied that I was positive that it would make a difference, and he seemed to be a little reassured by that.

We walked past a man trying to sleep in a planted area next to the sidewalk. He got up and offered to answer our questions. Our conversation was interrupted a number of times for him to answer questions I hadn’t asked him. After my initial confusion, it became clear that he was answering questions from another voice that I couldn’t hear. My heart sank even further when he said that he became homeless four days ago.

We encountered a veteran who responded “You’re doing the homeless count? Oh yeah, it’s January again.” He had been homeless long enough to witness many PIT counts, which take place once every two years. He had also grown up in foster care. I couldn’t help but think of the systems we have that are meant to protect people like him.

We happened across a woman who was living without shelter in a family of five, a rarity to find during the PIT count. She seemed to have a bright spirit, but there were moments during the interview that her answers felt like they carried more weight. “I have been homeless before, but it’s taking me a bit longer to come out of it this time for some reason.”

We encountered another young woman shortly after. The woman suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to physical family violence. She was also visibly pregnant.

We encountered a number of people living without shelter. There were a number of times that only one person out of our group of four saw someone. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how many others were there that we weren’t able to find. Every person we did find, however, will not only contribute to our understanding of who is experiencing homelessness in our state, but also made a lasting impression on all of the volunteers who participated on the night on the count.

I don’t know the names of the people I surveyed since the surveys were anonymous, but I don’t expect that I will ever forget their faces. They were all completely different people with varied needs and experiences, but all were in a very vulnerable situation in that moment. I was glad to be part of a group that was willing to look and see the humanity in what is often considered an “invisible” problem.

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Paths to Public Service featuring Jose Manuel Ayon

Paths to Public Service featuring Jose Manuel Ayon

Name: Jose Manuel Ayon

Job Title: Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) at the California Department of Veterans Affairs

Recommended Reading: On Leadership by John W. Gardner


What was your path into public service?

I majored in Political Science as an undergrad at UC Berkeley with the clear intention of one day returning to Sacramento to work in the public service sector. In addition, I was a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow through the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and a President Public Service Fellow through the University of California, Center Sacramento. After graduating and completing the Fellowship, I joined the United States Army Reserve as a commissioned officer and currently still serve as a 1st Lieutenant. I also had the opportunity to work with the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and at CSU, Sacramento. Such experiences fueled my passion for public service and gave me the tools to join such sector as a competitive applicant.

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now?

I am currently an AGPA for the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Minority Division. This division oversees several programs that are oriented to serve underrepresented and underserved veterans. This includes the Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise Program, where I support both internal and external operations. I am extremely passionate about this work because of my military occupation and the passion I have in regards to giving back to my community. Our work is very much needed, and I am extremely honored to be part of this amazing team at CalVet.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service? Applying for State jobs can be a very long and repetitive process. However, staying proactive by regularly updating resumes and applications will really be crucial in the long run.

How does your position in public service compare to other jobs you’ve had in the past?

I enjoy the fast pace that comes with my occupation. Being able to support and work for our California Veterans community as a member of the military is something unique about this job compared to other occupations. The work that we are doing here at CalVet is very rewarding and I definitely enjoy it.

Paths to Public Service featuring Danielle Metzinger

Paths to Public Service featuring Danielle Metzinger

Name: Danielle Metzinger

Job Title: Strategic Goal Program Manager (Civil service classification: Staff Services Manager I Specialist) at the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans)

Recommended Reading: We Don’t Make Widgets by Ken Miller

Spirit Animal: Hummingbird

Song stuck in your head right now: “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande

Danielle Metzinger is a Strategic Goal Program Manager for the California Department of Transportation and serves as Deputy Director of NxtGov. She was one of the founding members of NxtGov and has served multiple roles in the organization including Membership Lead and Director of the Ambassador Program. Danielle received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from William Jessup University and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Organization Development from University of San Francisco.



What was your path into public service?

I was drawn to public service because I wanted to do something that matters. After working in the nonprofit and private sectors, I realized my deepest motivation was to meaningfully serve others and to advance the common good as much I can with my career. State government is a way to serve on a large-scale and put things in motion that will make lasting impact on those in need. I was also drawn to public service because of the job stability and flexibility it affords employees. As a millennial, I saw the devastating impact of the Great Recession on my community and the value of stable employment. I learned from public servant friends how much variety and flexibility was available and saw myself building a civil service career.

I sought guidance from friends who worked in civil service and took the better part of my final semester of college to take civil service exams and apply for as many jobs as I qualified for. My diligence and tenacity paid off and I was able to land a position and start my civil service career as a Staff Services Analyst (an entry-level analytical position) within a month of graduating college.

I remain in public service because of the incredible people I’ve been able to work with and the fascinating projects I get the chance to contribute to. I have amazing mentors and friends through my public service career that have forever shattered the negative stereotype of the “state worker” and keep me motivated to accomplish my absolute best for the people of California. I’ve also received support for continuing my education and increasing my skills so I can reach my potential. I’m also able to work on large scale projects across different functions and organizations within government which I find tremendously rewarding and interesting.


What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now?

In my current position at CalTrans I bring leaders together to focus on the organization’s top priority – its impact on the safety and health of CalTrans employees and the public. I’ve been inspired by CalTrans’ commitment to safety in every aspect and function of the organization, and the work CalTrans does to promote and plan for active transportation such as walking, biking, and transit. I’m fortunate to work for an organization which is focused on the future and improving fundamentals like access and safety in transportation to facilitate a better life for all people in California and bolster our country’s economy.


What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in Civil Service?

Don’t sell yourself short! The civil service process, and even the language used in job descriptions, can be intimidating even to the most intelligent and accomplished prospective civil servant. Your experience (whether paid or not) is valuable and it all “counts” when it comes to qualifying for a civil service position. Consider the full range of your education and experience when taking an exam and applying for a position.


What was your strategy for applying to public service positions? In hindsight, would you change your approach?

My strategy for applying to my first public service position was to apply for any position that I had passed an exam for and was near where I lived. With the high amount of applicants in the system and without possessing any public service experience, I understood this is a competitive process and I would need to focus on increasing my chances of landing an interview. Essentially I applied to as many jobs as I qualified for. Coupled with that, I always made sure to tailor each application to the position and carefully follow any directions for the application (for example, including a specific number on the application, attaching a resume, etc.) and include a tailored cover letter. These efforts helped me secure my first position which was an excellent foundation for my public service career.

In hindsight, I realized I would often include extraneous items (such as my civil service exam results) that weren’t required and I could have left out without it hurting my chances. Paying careful attention to the application requirements is paramount. Don’t feel like you need to include anything and everything!

Celebrating 2 years – from an idea to a community

Celebrating 2 years – from an idea to a community



The Beginning

In 2014, the *California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) launched an initiative to revamp the way the State hires, trains, retains, and develops its workforce. The Civil Service Improvement (CSI) Initiative was a bold, but honest attempt at revamping bureaucracy to bring it into modern times. Acknowledging this effort required new ways of thinking, the Agency Secretary of GovOps, Marybel Batjer, made an active effort to ensure work-groups formed for this initiative and sought input from recent civil service hires.


In a state as diverse as California, there remains a need for a workforce that can represent multiple stories. A diversity of experience and thought at all levels is needed throughout the State. Furthermore, as a result of the economic downturn, the State had less than 1% of “millennial” civil service hires resulting in an unintentional divide of generations across civil service. To this end, Secretary Batjer and other leaders hosted a “Millennial Brown Bag” inviting passionate public servants to share their stories. They spoke about the challenges experienced while applying to State jobs, silos within government, and the opportunities the State had to remediate them. Public servants did not have a platform nor a space to come together and actively break the unintended silos of government.


The Rise of NxtGov

NxtGov launched on February 2, 2017 with support from GovOps and many other public servants. NxtGov was born out of the need to ensure public servants would have a space and voice in important government initiatives impacting the workforce. We recognized that it was not just millennials that wanted change. We rebranded the term “millennial” to include all generations because true change requires collective action from a diverse community.


NxtGov is a professional network of people passionate about public service, improving our community, and the overall success of society. We recognize that to drive transformational change, there is a need to actively collaborate across sectors. The core of our work is built on our values to serve, collaborate, and inspire. To this end, NxtGov focuses on a few core program areas and values:

  1. Recruiting the next generation of public servants.
  2. Empowering change agents throughout government to be NxtGov Ambassadors.
  3. Consulting with California government entities looking to incorporate the perspective of the new workforce into their projects and strategic agendas.
  4. Giving back to our community by coordinating regular community engagement events and forming partnerships with local nonprofits.
  5. Expanding our network across silos and sectors by building our membership.
  6. Providing professional development opportunities for current members.



NxtGov continues to evolve and grow. In November 2018, we hosted an Executive Team election. The new Executive Team leads the program areas and our membership has expanded along with our partnerships with state government, private sector, local government, and nonprofits.


Spaces like NxtGov are unique. Public service is an honorable and hard endeavor. However, when you have a safe space and a community to collaborate and experiment your innovative thoughts, it makes our work much more rewarding and fulfilling.


*The California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) is a state entity focusing on improving government. It was created in 2013 to increase collaboration across the operations of all state government, including the task to ensure departments had the right people, the right tools, and the processes in place to deliver services to all Californians. GovOps is an umbrella to many departments that provide services to other government entities including the core functions of technology, procurement, and human resources.

NxtGov Millennials in Public Service

NxtGov Millennials in Public Service

NxtGov would like to thank Innovative Pathways to Public Service for its support and collaboration. Innovative Pathways to Public Service works across sectors to bring the next generation into meaningful careers at all levels of government. Their vision is for the public sector to become a destination employer, attracting a more diverse and younger workforce who will experience multiple career opportunities within government employment over the life of their careers. Together we were able to capture inspiring interviews with a diverse group of millennial public servants in Sacramento, California. These interviews would not have been possible without the commitment of this intrepid group and the incredible young public servants who took the time to share their inspiring stories. NxtGov appreciates its volunteers and most importantly thanks them for their dedication and efforts to public service!

four white leather armchairs inside room

Andrew Kehoe – Office of Mayor Darrell Steinberg

Angelica Quirarte – California Government Operations Agency

Danielle Metzinger – California Department of Transportation

Jaskamalpreet Kaur – Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Julian Nunn – California Department of Social Services

Mark Jimenez – California Department of Finance

Meagan Tokunaga – California Department of Finance

Nathalie Nguyen – California Business, Consumer Services Housing Agency

Seth Yund – California Air Resources Board

Treylynd Bowles – California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

William Pitts – CPS HR Consulting

Become a Change Agent in your Organization – Encourage innovation through collaboration.

Become a Change Agent in your Organization – Encourage innovation through collaboration.

By Randi Hanks, Communications Specialist at NxtGov

Published on January 14, 2019


What is a change agent? A change agent is a person within an organization who strategically encourages and promotes positive transformation through innovation and collaboration with others.


All too often, marketing and leadership teams place the term innovation into a mission statement or value list, but fail to promote or implement the strategies necessary to ensure its success. From afar, innovation and change are desirable qualities held by companies and prospective employees; up close, it can be an entirely different story. Anxiety, doubt and fear can be felt when experiencing major adjustments. By assuming that change within an organization is an easy task, one is setting a team up for failure. Read on as we go over four main topics that can help you ease the process of change within your organization.


Question and listen with compassion

Working with individuals to streamline or automate a process that is already in place begins by asking questions and listening for the pain points. It is not uncommon for a change request to stem from a process that is causing frustration or confusion, so expect some initial angst or push back from the individuals sharing their thoughts.


Tip: To help jump start the process, gather your team and the individuals responsible for performing the process everyday and perform a question-storming session. “The Innovator’s DNA” recommends asking a minimum of 50 questions during a session, while only providing or seeking answers after.


Create a safe environment for voices to be heard

Involving those who will be directly impacted by the change ensures details are not missed and encourages successful solutions to be built. In the Business Analyst industry, these individuals are called Subject Matter Experts or “SMEs”. SMEs are the secret ingredient to creating a successful solution. They contain the knowledge of the current process and will be the main source of positivity regarding the streamlined process. If the opinions of the SMEs, or any other key stakeholder, are not considered, they are far less likely to buy into the new process.  


Tip: Observe the individuals who are hesitant to share their thoughts and reach out to them directly. Explain how their shared opinions and concerns are valuable and by providing them, an innovative solution is more likely to have a positive impact. If a SME provides insight into the new process, point out where their input encouraged a positive change.


Encourage the 50/50.

The impacted employees’ input and voices are equally important to the change agents’ innovative ideas and final designs. Encourage the impacted individual(s) to take an active role in the project. There has yet to be a change agent who can read minds. Without diverse opinions being shared by the team, the new idea will only be able to grow so far.


Tip: Listen for the word “should” by the designers or managers in charge of the original process. More times than not, it will point directly towards an area of frustration within the process at hand. Simply observe and take note as to why the process is not being completed, as it “should”. This will lead directly to the areas where innovation is most critical. When working with the Subject Matter Experts, testing the new process before going live cannot be emphasized enough. This is the moment where you will find the critical points that have been missed.


Paint a picture or tell a story

Once the idea has sparked in a change agents’ mind, it can be difficult to convey it to the audience. There are several thoughts and past experiences that connect together to create that one big idea. A change agent’s mission is to share those connections in a clear and understandable way.


Tip: Find the medium that works best for describing the new idea to the audience whether that is painting a picture using flowcharts, diagrams and design mockups, or telling a story using dialogue, written word and communication. Build a bridge, connecting the dots of an employees’ day-to-day life, with the new imagined idea.


Forcing a change upon people causes push back, however, incorporating all impacted employees throughout the process, remaining compassionate to concerns and showing how their ideas positively impacted the design, will encourage the acceptance of change.


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DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.

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