“Well, you know, we all want to change the world. You tell me that’s evolution” was penned by Lennon and McCartney in 1968, a turbulent year indeed. Government at all levels is experiencing in many respects, unprecedented pressures to elasticize its role – either contract it to make it smaller or expand it to make it larger. Leaders are striving relentlessly to translate these headwinds of change into a tailwind. I believe we’re entering a new period of renaissance for government.
“Of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Democracy remains a social engineering experiment that according to Winston Churchill, is the worst form of government, except for all the others.
Focusing solely on the cost of government is full of dead-ends. I recommend the attention be spent on the value of government. The role of government is to serve as the protagonist for a better quality of life; to help us a enjoy social good(s) that otherwise we couldn’t do for ourselves, like safe communities, clean drinking water, parks and trails, a national defense and the list goes on. Emphasizing the value of government and the social and political capital necessary to build stronger communities is mission-critical for leaders, now more than ever.
After investing the first 15 years of my career in local government management and the last 15+ as a consultant to governments nationwide, I still believe public service is a noble profession. Every day those who serve the public, separate politics from government and commit themselves to building stronger communities, regardless of what level of government they serve.
People volunteer to live in your community, just like you volunteer to work in government and people volunteer to run for office. There’s an old saying, “no one washes a rental car” which is to say when people don’t have skin in the game, they are not vested in either the process or the results. The public-sector at all levels must leverage today’s uncertainty by challenging old assumptions (i.e. we’ve always done it that way) and experimenting with creative and clever ways to enlist residents/taxpayers/customers in creating a better future. Whether it’s using social media to attract a stronger caliber of talent to join your organization, improving the experience you’re providing when people interact with your organization to, well, the list goes on.
Remember, growth and comfort don’t co-exist so maybe the only way to have an answer to the unknown is to face it every so often.