As Federal agencies modernize IT systems to meet mission goals, they must overcome barriers to creating business cases for change.

Agency culture is one of the barriers that can prevent change from happening at departments, Head of Office of Online Services at the IRS Karen Howard said today during the GovLoop Virtual Summit.

“When you decide to try to change approach, you’re really asking people to change what they’re doing and unless you have a compelling reason or convincing business case that has a win-win to it, people are not naturally going to gravitate to that chain because we innately go to ‘this is the way I’ve always done things,’” said Howard.

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To change a culture within an organization, Howard says, starts with recognizing nuances and considerations that are critical and unique to an association. Additionally, she says to understand and be prepared to clearly and succinctly articulate the business case; make the entire organization a part of the change and have consistent messaging on it; and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“Not everyone, and hopefully that’ll be a small percentage, will embrace the culture change and all the activities that go with it,” said Howard. “Leaders have to recognize change resistors and put in the work to meet them where they are, and bring them along.”

Lastly, Howard mentioned that diversity drives innovation and brings out different experiences to accomplish a common mission.

“Diversity for lively conversation, it’s really the kaleidoscope of ideas and never-ending learning that can be applied to an organization’s strategic vision,” said Howard. “Organizations who embrace diversity will automatically evolve their culture.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.