1 min read

Delegate, or rip off the taxpayer

Delegate, or rip off the taxpayer

What do you do for work?” Gulp. When you work for the government, sometimes it’s tempting not to tell people. Primarily if you work in local government. Nothing sours a BBQ faster than being on the receiving end of someone ranting about “those bloody idiots on Council.”

There’s always someone who thinks they can do things better and cheaper than their local decision-makers. There’s an unhelpful current of thinking that public servants are overpaid and irresponsible. That bureaucrats enjoy nothing more than a bit of frivolous overspending and get a kick out of inflating staff numbers.

To clarify, I am the first to defend the public sector on spending. None of this could be further from the truth. The data on public spending inflation is precise: cost increases are driven by increases in activity - not expenditure. The government is doing more. Public agencies are increasingly expected to do more, often with the same or fewer resources.

Herein lies the problem.

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all of those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” Thomas Sowell

You can do anything, but not everything. Economics 101: opportunity cost. When we spend our resources on one thing, we no longer have them to spend on something else.

We seem to understand this with our money, but not with our time.

I work with dedicated, purpose-driven senior public leaders who spend their energy on things below their pay grade. These same leaders are equally surprised and regretful when I point out what a horrendous waste of public money this amounts to.

Deep breath…. Rant incoming… 

When we waste time on low-impact initiatives, when we don’t delegate, when we don’t make decisions, when we keep something in draft for an extra two weeks because no one wants to be held accountable, when we ‘jump to’ for squeaky wheels, when we cater to grumpy politicians, when we work around and thereby perpetrate a crappy process, when we attend meetings we should have deputised for, when we avoid risk, when we report on things instead of doing them, when we write emails in place of hard conversations, when we go around in circles, when we work in silos and duplicate effort…. we’re ripping the community off.

How you spend time matters at least as much as how you spend money.

You’re certainly not getting any more of it.

Til next week,

A

More like this

The paradox of public leadership (or: just give them the damn picnic table)

2 min read

The paradox of public leadership (or: just give them the damn picnic table)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” “I must be cruel to be kind” “The child is the father of the man” Literature is full...

This is an intervention: It's time to get unstuck

1 min read

This is an intervention: It's time to get unstuck

In this post: What to do when you're feeling stuck Strategic leadership: skills to change your life Stop planning, start strategising: how to stay...

The future of work belongs to the strategist

The future of work belongs to the strategist

ATMs and Strategy When ATMs were first rolled out, economists, politicians, and the media panicked. Automation was to rob bank tellers of their jobs!...

You can be the one who changes things

You can be the one who changes things

It's never been more possible to do great work You are always free to choose a different path Your employer wants you to shake it up. It's never...

How to make tricky decisions

How to make tricky decisions

The average person makes 17,000 decisions a day. Most of those are easy, like what to have for breakfast or what time to leave for work, but some are...