…sometimes when I’m on the phone I get a chance to people-watch from the office, and I can’t help thinking that as a Publicly Funded organisation we’ve lost touch with most of the people we’re here to serve? I wonder if instead of being given tax-payers money directly from the treasury that perhaps we should have someone senior standing outside on the pavement each day with a collection bucket and a crib-sheet outlining what is going on in the building on that particular day. They could ask for contributions from passers-by to fund all the things we do. I think it would be a sobering exercise for both the people asking and the people being asked.
I imagine the conversation going something like this,”Good afternoon sir, I’m outside this Publicly Funded office today looking for contributions towards the running of this organisation and I wonder if you have any spare cash we can have please?“…”Of course I’ll be happy to listen to why I should give you some money if you can explain to me in an honest simple fashion what is going on in the building today that you need cash for?”…”well we have some meetings going on with a number of highly paid people who have travelled many miles and used a great deal of time and fuel to get here, based on past experience the need for the meeting itself is questionable and the outcome will probably amount to little if anything, we will also need to print things, lots of things, copies of glossy documents to fill the shelves of our large cupboards, and lots of copies of strategies that no-one asked for or will read, and some money to fund the research to populate the documents that no-one will read, and agendas; and this all costs money, oh, and as well as that we also need technology, boatloads of technology and lots of expensive programmes and software to support this technology, and training, we need to pay for the training needs of our staff, its important that all our staff feel valued and that as global warming becomes reality they are all equipped to deal with a spitting Cobra, a Shark attack or a stampede of Wildebeest; you can never be too careful in this litigious society sir, and so you see that’s why we need your money”…I think the answer would be “No”.
In the Public Sector we take our money for granted, in part because we have lost the connection to the source of our funding; the tax-payer. Tax-payers money is never talked of in terms of it belonging to the tax-payer, it is a departments or an organisations or sometimes a governments. The money is filtered (and shrunk) by so many departments that the connection between the source and the recipient is all but lost.
I think that’s one of the reasons I hear people within the Public Sector saying that the main barrier to them improving and innovating is that they don’t think they have the authority to do things or they can’t get the permissions they think they need. The mandate of Publicly Funded bodies comes from the tax-payer and standing still and fossilising is simply not an option. Management gurus have said for many years that the work of work is no longer just doing the job, the work of work is to do the job and to constantly improve…I think that for organisations and individuals that have been trusted with Public Money we need good reasons not to improve, to innovate and to challenge.