To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words, governments of the people, by the people, for the people must not be allowed to wither away and disappear under the institutional weight of bureaucracy, inertia, corruption, cronyism, self-interest and self-perpetuation. Zombie institutions that no longer serve any purpose but refuse to die because they line up the nest eggs of political and corporate élites at the expense of the citizens who finance and support them must be swept away and new ones, more fit for the purpose of solving the modern challenges we all face, must be put in place. Bringing about this revolutionary paradigm shift in a peaceful, democratic manner, in the UK, across the EU, and throughout the Trans-Atlantic Sphere is the most important task we must take on in the years ahead.
And so, the last of our strategies has to do with putting into practice what Abraham Lincoln called one-and-a-half centuries ago “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. This visualisation of what an effective and accountable government must be in practice has still not been matched since the uttering off these memorable words on the field of the battle of Gettysburg. One of the key reasons most citizens become alienated from their governments is because they lose perspective over how to interact with its various agencies that have become over time self-sustaining runaway bureaucracies and have often forgotten their original mission – of serving the needs of citizens, and not the interests of politicians and bureaucrats. Restructuring public institutions’ aims away from focusing on the work and careers of its members rather than on high-quality service to the public is neither an impossible nor even a highly complex task: it is purely a matter of organisational design and change and of re-casting its defining corporate culture – exercises that most private organisations, especially the large national and transnational ones, engage in on a regular basis because of the highly dynamic ecosystem they evolve in and because of their changing needs as organisations.
In fact for some time now that has emerged a cross-learning process where private organisations are learning from public ones how to become more socially responsible towards their employees, towards the communities they operate in, and towards the natural environment in which they are operate, whilst public organisations are learning from private ones how to more effectively deliver the results they seek to achieve. The types of corporate culture appropriate to specific public or private organisations differ of course greatly depending on how the organisation came about, how its management is structured, and how it evolved as it scaled up or down in terms of size, scope, and diversification of products.
But they all integrate certain key characteristics grouped around the notion that in the 21st century cooperation and competition within a mutually beneficial business environment capable of creating positive results for all those involved will always trump traditional zero-sum conflicts where the survival of one organisation necessarily implies the destruction of its competitor. The shared action framework of these private and pubic institutions is based on living up to and implementing the Value – Accountability – Balance ethos that defines the operations of such organic, learning, cooperative, institutions in the private, the governmental, and increasingly also of the non-governmental (NGO) sector. ‘Value’ refers to creating a desirable product in an efficient and effective manner; ‘Accountability’ means being responsible to all its stakeholders in an open and constructive way; and ‘Balance’ is a legitimate process of learning to develop sustainable patterns of work capable of taking into account economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors.
And so, in order to comply with the “Value – Accountability – Balance” model, the six shared characteristics of our public and private institutions must be: