Return to site

Why is Government Struggling?

The Public Sector had a PR problem. In common parlance, 'bureaucracy' itself is the problem yet many of the social, economic and environmental issues we face are fundamentally public in nature and will only be solved with the help of public institutions? How do we square this circle?

It is a truism that everything government deals with is getting rapidly more complex: from climate change to pointed social issues like same-sex marriage or even the delivery of traditional government programs and services. The impact is a generation of public servants at risk of getting confused and burnt-out.

This model maps this dynamic: as issues become more complex and 'wicked' their solutions must too, but our public institutions sometimes seem stuck in hide-bound patterns. The harder we try to break-free, the tighter the bonds become.

We are seeing a breakdown in the effectiveness of our public institutions at the very moment we need them to be at their most effective!

Despite the moralistic tone of debate, this dynamic is no-one's fault; it is inherent in the growth of complex systems and an indicator the next level of effectiveness may be just-around-the corner.

But here is a critical risk: if we don't make the quantum leap soon, it could actually be too late...

As the complexity in systems increases, the response/feedback mechanisms bifurcate: they grow to match the change, or; they break-down to their smallest viable unit. To use a personal example: if I can't get all my devices syncing properly, I tend to ignore all but the one I use the most. In a bureaucratic sense, that's called a silo.

Here's the rub: if our public systems cannot grapple with the totality of the issues at hand, their operative levels will break-down into silos that engage with only one small issue at-a-time. The impact is a complete loss of relevance, traction, influence, and effectiveness. This is the risk we are currently facing.

We are at a critical point in the evolution of our public institutions: we either follow the blue arrow UP the chart of effectiveness, or we watch our public institutions break-down into ever more deeply entrenched silos as they struggle to grapple with ever smaller parts of the whole.

There is no middle ground.

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly