Aug 112017
sector incompetence

Public Sector Inability is a problem … says who?

This piece considers public sector inability and asks: could it be both unfair and untrue?  As a matter of fact, Galbraith  brings focus to the problem:

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought.
J K Galbraith

public sectorHow is money lost in government procurement? How does incompetence happen?  Leaders (politicians) and employees (civil servants) may point fingers without a solution in mind … beyond further rounds of blame and reorganisation.

Are people who work in the Public Sector as capable as anyone? What do you think?

Stuck needle … myth or reality

In other words, is public sector knowledge, competence and commitment a scapegoat? What makes for inability anyway?

  1. political agendas?
  2. denial/avoidance of reality?
  3. lack of relevant ability?
  4. ingrained pettiness and infighting?
  5. barefaced dishonesty?
sector incompetence

close-up issues hide big picture views

Where is the justification for devaluing or misusing a national asset … our human capital. It’s important to realize a rich vein of opportunity awaits those who can tap into it and my experience backs this up.

Looking back

Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) burst like a bomb in the public sector in the mid-eighties. For one thing, money was tight and harsh measures became the order of then day. In fact CCT forced redundancy and pain on many middle and senior managers as ”Equal Misery“ became a cynical slogan.

Financial ideology and human incompetence drove political attitude. Of course, like many aspects of change, a germ of truth and logic lay behind the thinking. Nonetheless success needed people who, in turn, needed leadership and the right tools and techniques to do the job. Whatever the rationale, Change became the watchword. Likewise, achievement of good results happened in some places.

Fact-facing leadership

Public sector inabilityIn fact, change they did. I worked with my first CCT team in Northwest England thirty plus years ago, brave souls all. No equal misery for them. Notably, they succeeded over many years with enthusiasm, nettle-grabbing and self-belief. Another key point is people delivered on Margaret Thatcher’s crusade against public sector incompetence. In spite of the early pain, tough decisions backed by audit, honest two-way communication and adaptability eased the process. In this case action started at the top. With enthusiasm, local politicians engaged with a were-in-this-together mind-set and were part of the solution. Finally, there was much to celebrate.

The political leaders in public sector inability?

Bearing changes in mind, in organizations of all sizes, over many projects and in many sectors clear facts emerged. In particular:

Human potential and the power of goodwill exists … even in scary adversity …
even when the ideology behind the scenes is inhuman, harsh and bullying.

All things considered, it’s not public sector inability that leads to . For the most part, the cause of failure is poor leadership, which includes inept politicians, ineffective (or zero) guiding principles founded on flawed ideology and a lack of human consideration. Of course it’s important to use resources well and work effectively. Ultimately, we need visible fruits of stable ways of working delivered by people free of fear.

Missing link?

Delivery and performance are essential. With this in mind, how many leaders and organisations actually work in a productive way at a human level? We can’t escape a natural law:

Working culture is a by-product of what’s going on. It’s an outcome.
As King Canute knew, working culture can’t be prescribed.

Shame on our Westminster bubble for their lack of insight and leadership. Shame on our mechanistic ˜Management“ ethos and thinking. People are humans. Great things will happen if we let them!

© Mac Logan

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