Saturday, September 17, 2011

If you think government should run like business...

...what kind of business should it run like?

Generally, businesses are bipartisan. There may be some turnover when a person in a leadership position moves on, but usually the goal is to minimize disruption.

In many ways, government already runs like business. Albeit one that doesn't gross a 50% margin on everything. Think about how much more people would bitch if their taxes were proportional to the business worth of services that they received.

Some folks think that things would be more efficient and less prone to error. I've held jobs in the academic sector (private and state universities), in large multi-national companies, in family-owned businesses, in retail organizations, in banking-related industries, for myself, and a few more scenarios. What I've learned is that each organization has both strengths and weaknesses...not unlike each coworker I've known. Further, each person's motivation is individualized: they work for economic stability and for economic freedom, they work to keep their families together or their traveling lifestyle, they work to keep from being bored and they work to learn new things, they work because they need to be a part of a something big and noble or small and efficient, they work to create something that's never been done before or build a better mousetrap, they work to be the best or they work to be their best.

Company cultures vary as much as the individuals and groups that comprise them. Excellence, consistency, teamwork, individuality, hierarchical, egalitarian, top-down, bottom-up, and so many more business cultures thrive. And fail. Let's not forget that businesses fail. They're especially vulnerable when they have to undergo rapid change.

I'm sure at least some of you watch professional sports or have been on some kind of team before. Sometimes the combination of people turns into a stellar example of the sum of the whole is well worth more than the sum of the individual parts. Granted, this is what most companies who tout their team atmosphere want all of us to believe. But we all know that there are, have been, and will be teams that are successful because of the exquisite skills of just one or two people, and because the rest of the team is uniquely qualified to support them or because the stars would be successful regardless of whether they're partnered with a nincompoop or a genius.

Yes, the business of government has issues, but who is willing to pay someone to evaluate what works and what doesn't? You know, people with expertise at revamping business, not just the regular person standing in front of you with an opinion...

Opinions are most definitely way to easy to give...and those that are spewed out without data are the worst kind, at least in my opinion.
: )

I used to NOT express my opinion, primarily because it represented just my viewpoint. Over the years, of course, I've learned that my opinion is valuable, often because it's based more on logic and facts than on emotion and history. However, this doesn't make it any more valuable than anyone else's opinion.

So, think again about how exactly you think the government can be streamlined, identify the services that you believe can be eliminated, and then find some random person on the street and see if their opinion is a carbon-copy match for yours. We all have ideas of how things could be better, but in a good business, brainstorming is only the first part of the business process...