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The Key to Successful Tech Management

Learning to Metabolize Failure

Author: Clay Shirky
March/April 2014
Foreign Affairs


Late last October, the management expert Jeffrey Zients was given a mandate to fix, the website at the forefront of U.S. President Barack Obama's health-care reform, after its disastrous launch. Refusing to engage in happy talk about how well things were going or how soon everything would be fixed, Zients established performance metrics for the site's responsiveness, insisted on improvements to the underlying hardware, postponed work on nonessential features, demanded rapid reporting of significant problems, and took management oversight away from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services) and gave it instead to a single contractor reporting to him.

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