This year, the International Trade Administration’s Industry and Analysis (I&A) team launched the “Renaissance Project.” The initiative aims to create a system of turning ideas into actions, and it has helped increase our team’s productivity and boost morale.
Through the project, we challenged a series of staff working groups to develop ideas to not only make I&A a better place to work, but also come up with tangible, actionable steps to put those ideas into motion.
Every three to four months, a new group of interested volunteers discussed a particular theme, and then identified the concrete steps necessary to make improvements to I&A under their theme. Most importantly, after putting together a proposal to senior I&A management, each group actually took the steps to make to the recommended improvements.
Throughout the course of the past year, five groups have met as part of the Renaissance Project to work on their particular “theme” of issues, ranging from post-reorganization cohesion to long-standing issues:
1. Getting to Know the New I&A
2. Improving Communication
3. Training and Mentoring
4. Identity, Branding, and Image
5. Employee Recognition and Retention
As a member of a working group, we were asked to think about both short- and long-term solutions, embracing not only more complicated projects but also considering several smaller improvements that could be implemented immediately. With enthusiastic support from senior management, we have been able to implement or achieve progress on several new initiatives, including:
* I&A Social Hour – BYO coffee events hosted by various offices within the unit to promote informal interaction among staff from different areas of the unit.
* I&A Conversation Series – Informal speaking events where staff share experiences on interesting projects, detail rotations, or share insight on a variety of issues to leverage the knowledge already existing within I&A for the betterment of all.
* I&A Responsibilities Matrix – Expand the existing staff directory to include a list of responsibilities for each staff member and office which can be shared to promote awareness of the work going on within I&A and who to contact with issue-specific questions.
* Brown Bag Lunch Discussions – Informal dialogue sessions where staff and senior management can communicate feedback, updates, and have general two-way discussions on a variety of issues and activities.
* Training Matrix – A collection of training recommendations grouped by skill type, career series, and level, with the goal of improving the various skillsets ideally found in I&A staff. We have also dedicated funds for some of these training events to continuously hone the skills of our team.
In addition to getting to know our teammates better, this project has promoted increased interaction among our staff and a heightened sense of initiative and involvement in I&A’s future. Along with benefits to both productivity and morale, the Renaissance Project allowed the unit to take greater advantage of our in-house skills and develop more efficient ways of using our shared knowledge. We’ve found that folks within I&A have a variety of fresh ideas and now a new sense of purpose that has helped create new leaders among the team.
It’s a great bit of momentum for us as we enter 2015 and we look forward to our most productive year yet!
Otmane El Rhazi
Department of Commerce
Text/Mobile, +44 7414 782 320