- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (November 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1422166368
- ISBN-13: 978-1422166369
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#512,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #197 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Public Affairs
- #388 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Public Affairs & Administration
- #897 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > General
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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government 1st Edition
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In 1969 the Apollo launch gave the U.S. confidence that, if we could beat the Russians to the moon, surely we could solve more prosaic problems. But succeeding years have shown that not to be the case. Recent examples of governmental bungles include the response to Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and the economic meltdown. Business consultants Eggers and O’Leary analyzed 75 case studies of major public initiatives, domestic and international, failures and successes, and looked for patterns and lessons. They identify “seven deadly traps” that can undermine the best-intended projects: the Tolstoy syndrome of seeing only what you want to see in a problem; policy designed to pass through legislatures but not for implementation; overconfidence that results in unrealistic budgets and time lines; complacency that fails to recognize the need for change; and fumbling throughout the execution stage of the process. The authors detail each trap along with providing examples of where management concepts from the business world could have produced better results in the government sector. Public officials and ordinary citizens will appreciate this fresh look at government programs and policies. --Vanessa Bush
A clear-eyed look at how to get the best out of our public institutions. Instead of easy answers, the authors offer practical suggestions for successful execution in a very challenging and complex environment. A must-read for political leaders.” --Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson
As we sort out the cross-pressures in twenty-first-century government, this book is a useful and lively guide to how to make things work. Driven by practical cases and pragmatic lessons, it’s an invaluable road map to the government of the future.” - Donald F. Kettl, Dean, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
If We Can Send a Man to the Moon is the rare book that made me both shake my head in disbelief and nod my head with possibility. Eggers and O’Leary offer a trenchant analysis of how good government intentions can go awry. But they also show how sharper thinking and keener attention to design can help governments at all levels serve citizens better. Pick up two copiesone to read yourself, the other to send to your favorite elected official.” - Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind
After serving as a mayor, a congressman for twenty years, and as a secretary of two cabinet-level departments in two administrations from different political parties, I can attest that the challenges of executing successful government programs exist at all levels of government, in all parties, and in all locations. Eggers and O’Leary present exactly the most common traps that lead to a failure of execution, but more importantly they present ways to help avoid those traps. Their ideas should be presented to all government employees.” - Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta
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Top Customer Reviews
The only point that doesn't quite ring true is the authors' contention that program design should (and could) be addressed in more detail in the legislative drafting phase. The Congress doesn't have the time or expertise to do this in most cases. Aside from the highly visible issues that prompt 1200-page bills, the Congress often purposely leaves the details to the implementing agencies, for better or worse. The authors' suggestion that an independent "policy design review" by subject-matter experts be conducted in the legislative phase seems sensible at first, but raises many questions: Will there be time to fit this into the 2-year legislative cycle? How will the review be funded? Will partisans and interest groups be able to put undue influence on the selection of the study panel or the direction of its results?
Despite this one criticism, this is an important book that provides an informative and thought-provoking read for students and professionals alike. Each of the chapters ends with a summary reminiscent of a textbook, but the book's style is far more compelling than any textbook I remember from my school days. The final chapter is especially noteworthy, powerfully ending the book with profiles of two individuals, one a political appointee and politician, and the other a career bureaucrat. The reader comes away with a heightened appreciation for the government's potential to accomplish great things. I hope this does get used as a textbook so more students will see the possibilities and be drawn to public service.
In difficult times like this when great ideas ought to find their ways to effectively deliver desired results, this is a MUST-READ for those in the public sector leadership and management positions and others who are interested in civic leadership and making effective changes within government. It's time to leverage the cutting-edge ideas from the private sector and learn from the lessons of the ups-and-downs facing public sector initiatives so that government entities of all levels can become more efficient and effective.
Eggers and O'Leary did a fantastic job in combining leading theories and best practices to present innovative yet pragmatic solutions unique to the specific challenges and issues facing government and their stakeholders. If you are short of time to read through the entire book - which is a great easy-read regardless, turn to the "Field Guide" pages of each chapter and you will find the sensible SOLUTIONS with all the manageable tools and techniques to work through your problems....
A 5-star, highly recommended book for students who aspire to be effective public sector managers and leaders and those public sector veterans alike who strive to help make our world a better one for everyone!
But rather than rail on what's wrong with the way things get done (or not) in government, the authors show us how to fix what's wrong. Rather than cast blame, they show us how all of us can pull together to get things done, from politicians and those responsible for implementing policy, right down to ordinary voters.
Engaging, real-life examples of successes and failures, fascinating profiles of lesser-known yet highly influential personalities, and a down-to-earth and easy-to-read style make this a compelling read for anyone concerned about where our government is taking us today.
-=Michael Belfiore, author of The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs
This book takes the case-study approach. The topics discussed are easily relatable to projects the reader may have already finished or is in in the middle of. Highly recommended for somebody looking for fresh perspective (and not a textbook.)