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H4 Consulting Brief – awkwardness gap

People are social animals and may sometimes be inclined to concede a point for the sake of collegiality and minimising conflict.  In pursuit of good policy, this may mean that lower quality ideas prevail, while some good ideas end up on the cutting-room floor.  Tolerating the awkwardness of social distance for a little bit longer

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H4 Consulting Brief – anxiety curve

It takes a lot of energy for new thinking to change old habits.  We often think of anxiety as a negative consequence of change, especially when too much anxiety brings on a paralysis that makes change impossible.  But just the right amount of anxiety can give us the energy to drive change.  Publicly funded organisations

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H4 Consulting Brief – balancing the risk ledger

There are risks in every decision or action, even doing nothing.  Publicly funded organisations are often seen as particularly risk averse, seeking to avoid or minimise risk rather than recognising that risk is part of the price we pay to create public value.  The critical question to inform an action or decision should not be

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H4 Consulting Brief – the best person(s) for the job

Publicly funded organisations deliver dynamic, specialised work, assembling a jigsaw puzzle of skills usually not found in a single person.  These organisations are expected to be both efficient and flexible, paying only modest salaries, but still able to quickly reconfigure resources.  Traditional models of recruiting for whole roles can mean paying underutilised, highly skilled staff

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H4 Consulting Brief – public enterprising

Publicly funded organisations are often criticised for being bureaucratic and slow, with rigid decision making hierarchies that stifle creativity.  Small businesses, by contrast, are often held up as examples of flat, energetic, and innovative enterprises.  Alternative models of collaborative management and ownership of small publicly funded enterprises have been proposed to leverage small [...]

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H4 Consulting Brief – most likely to succeed

Publicly funded organisations are essential to implementing policy decisions, but their role as contributors to policy debate is often undervalued.  Sources of policy advice have expanded, while traditional policy units have become increasingly engaged in selling the policy decisions made by politicians.  Good policy proposals are increasingly self-censored, based on assumed preferences of [...]

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H4 Consulting Brief – conspicuous appropriation

The allocation of public funds is a powerful signifier of what a society values.  Sometimes this symbolic value is so significant that it eclipses the benefits derived from the investment.  Symbolic investments that do not materially improve outcomes divert resources from real solutions to public needs.  This type of conspicuous appropriation, where spending is an

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H4 Consulting Brief – cylinders of excellence

Publicly funded organisations and their teams are often defined by the work they perform and the types of staff they employ, rapidly organising themselves into functional silos.  Bringing people with similar skills and functions together in ‘cylinders of excellence’ can be efficient and satisfying within specialist domains, but these silos can hamper decision making and

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H4 Consulting Brief – new money

Publicly funded organisations spend substantial time and resources scrutinising proposals for relatively small investments of new resources.  Existing recurrent allocations, which make up the overwhelming majority of public spending, are subject to considerably less control and often lower expectations.  This mismatch between the scale of investment and the level of scrutiny drives an imbalance in

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H4 Consulting Brief – managing the authorising environment

Publicly funded organisations and initiatives derive legitimacy and support from complex authorising environments that include politicians, experts, citizens, commentators, and lobbyists.  As the needs and priorities of the public shift over time, the authorising environment and publicly funded organisations should shift as well.  This is a delicate balancing act, in which publicly funded [...]