Hats off to my good friend Julia Hobsbawm for sparking a debate over delivery in the public sector via her Editorial Intelligence organisation. I had the pleasure of chairing a discussion as part of her D4Deliver campaign on Thursday and you can listen to the podcast here. The top-notch panel included Mary Riddell of the Daily Telegraph, Chris Melvin, Chief Executive of Reed in Partnership and Octavius Black, who runs Mind Gym.
But the tone was set by Nick Jarman, who was brought in as Interim Director of Children's Services at beleaguered Doncaster Council after a series of scandals. Before we began he said his local authority could have provided a test case of how not to do things.
Professor David Sims of Cass Business, however, cut through the consensus of criticism by suggesting that a historic error had been made at the end of the 1970s when the busted model of Britain's manufacturing industries was imported to the public sector.
My view is that middle-managers in the civil service, government agencies and local authorities only have three powers: the power to say no, the power to delay and the power to screw things up. People are only human so it is no real surprise if they use the only powers available to them.