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Our view of the History

How You can Participate


Basic Management


Management a la Peter Drucker and others is pretty simple and can be used within any organization. It describes a process by which resources are applied toward goals. If the goals are measurable one can assess whether the outcomes one achieves are the outcomes one intended to achieve and, if one has data against which to compare the data from your organization, you can get some sense of whether the costs you are incurring are reasonable. 


There are two things about governmental organizations that make the management of government somewhat more unique than the management of other organizations. One happens all the time and the other seldom happens at all. In the first instance, elections and sometimes other erratic, impulsive forces bring about structural change with little or no relation to functionality. The Department of Homeland Security is probably the most worrisome example of this phenomenon in our current national government. Government, at every level, however, is a patchwork of resource application that may or may not support the stated goals and may even be arranged in ways that are diametrically opposed to goal achievement. Some people ride out their whole careers in government in positions that are no longer attached to any specific outcomes and therefore cannot be held accountable for achieving anything.


Management Step Two


Secondly, management in government seldom goes to step two in the management process. Consultants like Peter Drucker would describe management step two as a realignment of resources in response to an occasional assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of  the current application of resources. In other words, “Is this the best way to get the outcomes we want?”. In small organizations where the outcomes are fairly clear, this happens more or less automatically. For example, if your organization is making broom handles and 20% of the productivity turns out to be shovel handles, you make some simple changes and quickly cut that down to only 2% shovel handles. In large, complex organizations, which governments tend to be, a conscious effort is required to bring resource application in line with the best possible productivity. In fact, even in the private sector, it is only fairly recent that management step two has been applied to large organizations. As if it were invented for the first time toward the end of the latter half of the twentieth century something called “reengineering” produced astounding results. Some organizations, upon examination, found that they had as many as 10,000 employees that they could not attach to any of the goals they had. This resulted in “down sizing” and cost savings that made investors quite happy and willing to be pay CEO’s, to whom they attributed the increased productivity, salaries100 fold or more than the salaries of the folks actually doing the work. No one thought to ask who was responsible for hiring all these extra people in the first place and what in the world were their supervisors doing?


By and large, governments have not had the pleasure of down sizing through reengineering probably because no politician wants to be associated with finding ten thousand employees they couldn’t justify but also because personnel regulations in the public sector preclude putting 10,000 people out on the street just because the CEO (read, Mayor, Governor, President) discovered he/she had 10,000 more employees than they needed, or could effectively use, to get the job done. We, at the Center, believe this protection of employees is a good thing given the willy nilly nature of step two management in government and we suspect it is where great potential lies for the realignment of resources to do some of the things government might be doing if resources were available. This requires thinking “outside the box” which is difficult to do but we are hopeful. It took a long time to appreciate the value of step two management in the private sector and it will probably be a while for its full potential to be appreciated in the public sector. The Center is building some tools that government might use should the nation try to realign resources more sensibly. For example, should the country decide to deal with the crisis in health care financing, we would need the capacity to transition large groups of workers from one set of tasks to other sets of tasks. We have recommended such an initiative to the City of Auburn Maine. We await a response.