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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

Author: William D. Eggers
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press, 2009
April 29 2014
Private Event

About the Authors - William D. Eggers is the Global Research Director for Deloitte's public-sector practice and Executive Director of its Public Leadership Institute, and a prolific author and columnist.

John O'Leary is an expert in business process engineering and has extensive government and private-sector experience in companies including Scudder Kemper Investments, Lycos, and KPMG Peat Marwick.

About the Book - The American people are frustrated with their government-dismayed by a series of high-profile failures (Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown) that seems to just keep getting longer. Yet our nation has a proud history of great achievements: victory in World War II, our national highway system, welfare reform, the moon landing.

We need more successes like these to reclaim government's legacy of competence. In If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, William Eggers and John O'Leary explain how to do it. The key? Understand-and avoid-the common pitfalls that trip up public-sector leaders during the journey from idea to results.

The authors identify pitfalls including:

  • The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution
  • The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see
  • Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation
  • The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines
  • The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of democracy.