We’re making no claims about whether it’s a good or bad idea, whether it works or fails. But the meeting in this video is real and the people in it are from the very top on both sides. The ‘fly on the wall’ perspective has a unique and unprecedented feel.

The fact that the sound is often disrupted by mobile phone signals and that the speech is occasionally too ‘off-mike’ to hear perfectly, do absolutely nothing to detract from the powerful sense of immediacy and importance that this session evokes.

If you’re looking for some nice clear introductory talk or detailed policy presentations, or you want crisp assessments that you can use for making short-term tactical decisions, you might prefer to check out a current tech or financial analyst video instead, because I suspect this may be of little use as a ‘briefing’. But if you want some direct insight into how CEOs and CTOs of top corporations can interact with senior politicians and civil servants, albeit in an extraordinary setting, and under the public gaze, you may be more than a little surprised at some of the candour.

This was only one session (called ‘Streamlining Operations 1’) in a series called ‘Forum on Modernizing Government’.

What sort of practical lessons were there to be learned from these meetings?

Here are the first eight items (in a list of 22) from a posting on the White House Blog called ‘What We Saw and Heard at the Modernizing Government Forum’

(1) Business process reengineering must be done first and then technology can be used as a tool to make it work.  Whenever technology leads efforts, the projects have failed.

(2) Senior management must continue to monitor progress through a project’s lifecycle.  If the boss starts every meeting by asking about a project, that gets noticed.

(3) To gain commitment, the leader must create a “burning platform” – the idea that change must happen and the status-quo is unacceptable.  In order to encourage new thinking, goals must be bold.  Modest goals encourage incremental thinking.

(4) Detailed measurement and transparency of results can help focus efforts.  What gets measured gets done, especially when it’s shared publicly.

(5) Small focused teams –one from each functional area – often can break bottlenecks and get better results than larger group efforts.

(6) There is a critical need for standardization (software, data centers).  Focus for this must be from the top since functional teams and business units will not want it.

(7) Get to know the customers you serve and how every aspect of your work impacts them.  To engage employees, explicitly make the link for them about how their job contributes to overall customer service.

(8) Organizations can use transparency to create a culture of service, both by committing to better service publicly and by sharing customer feedback openly to boost accountability.