Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unfortunately, Government IS Run Like a Business

How you run a business largely depends upon the type of business you have. A manufacturing-based business is quite different economically than say a hotel. No one would try to run Nike in the same way as Hyatt. They are fundamentally different businesses. And Hyatt isn't Ernst & Young.

How now government? Many insist it be managed "more like" a business. Unfortunately, one could make the argument that it is run like a business now--a manufacturing business modeled on the industrial revolution.

Large, centralized management structures
Fixed infrastructure
Unionized employees
Guaranteed pensions, benefits, wage increases, position protection
Pervasive and inflexible rules-based procedures
Low customer satisfaction scores

With each political season and, now economic crisis, the public rails against these markers while at the same time insisting the government continue to provide services. Are we schizophrenic as the politicians and media declare?

The hallmark of a manufacturing business is production. But what does government produce? With few exceptions, government doesn't produce.

It serves.

Maybe we're not crazy. Maybe our government is just in the wrong business. What would government look like if it were managed like a professional services business?

To be continued.

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