One of the challenges in state government is in hiring and retaining talent, especially technology talent. Every company has this challenge but it's particularly difficult for government organizations because government is unable to compete with private industry on the basis of salary. In Washington State the challenge is magnified by having powerhouses like Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, F5, Real Networks, and many others existing in the same region.
State government will probably never be able to compete on salary, but state government can create a value proposition for prospective hires that is compelling and extremely competitive. There are three core elements to the strategy: 1) Mission, 2) Professional growth, and 3) Empowerment culture.
There are several experiments and initiatives that e-gov, a division within the State of Washington that has the purpose of transforming government, is conducting to test the idea. One of the experiments uses Holacracy as a way to systemically create and measure improvements in employee empowerment. The experiment started out as a one-year journey to learn more about self-management by doing it in a team of 15 people within the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Simultaneously, management began running the Holacracy practice as a platform for discussing Holacracy's potential with leaders in state government. Experts in HR policy, Union operations, State law, and others are engaged in the experiment. The journey is captured in the State of Washing Holacracy blog.
Now, after a year of operating Holacracy, the state is initiating a controlled scientific experiment with the help of the Harvard Business School researcher, Mike Lee, to test the hypothesis that Holacracy improves employee, customer, and organizational outcomes. The experiment is being constructed to have a "Treatment" group and a "Comparison" group. The Treatment group will be a number of teams from a 600 person state agency that will be learning and practicing Holacracy. The Comparison group will contain a number of teams operating as usual. Both groups will be measured multiple times throughout the one year experiment.