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WHAT IF…Public Sector Entrepreneurship was GLOBAL?

A note for our readers: the views reflected by the authors do not reflect the views of ASPA. 

By Marvin Pichla

Around the globe, public administrators are networking, sharing ideas, researching opportunities and striving to be more effective and efficient every day. No matter the country, resources applied to public service continue to be stretched. Therefore, to meet this challenge, it is critical and necessary to employ a public sector entrepreneurship mindset as an operational priority at all levels of government, across the globe.

It is very important for everyone in public service positions to become more aware of the influence and opportunities evolving from our participation in a global economy. This awareness must begin with realizing the impact of technology. For example, Microsoft, Google, and Apple are just are few of the companies that have been instrumental in facilitating technological advancements. Whether the reason is progressive steps invented by governments or technology companies opting out of providing updates and support for what they consider to be outdated products, change will occur. It must therefore be a public sector/service entrepreneurial priority to regularly look beyond “what you are doing” and anticipate where your agency technologically needs to be. Waiting for direction from a higher level of government may not progressively blend with the speed of technology changes. Placing yourself in a high-tech, proactive role instead of an uncertain, reactive role will not only strengthen your organization but also keep modern your service to the public.

A second global economy affect on public service is the allowance for greater innovation and idea sharing. One specific category is that leaders now have an increased opportunity to expand traditional definitions related to development. For example, let’s consider the term consolidation. Typically, in relation to public nonprofit sectors, this term often means elimination of organizations, divisions and jobs. However, from a public sector entrepreneurship point of view, consolidation may allow for greater service efficiency, less levels of “red tape” and even the potential for a greater number of strategic, new partnerships. This capacity for streamlining and possibly simplifying the operational aspects of providing more effective and efficient public services via more entrepreneurial definitions could truly have far-reaching positive effects.

Another way to incorporate an entrepreneurial approach to public service delivery on a global scale is the aspect of idea sharing. Consider the heavy influence of profit and being the first to the marketplace in the private sector. Sometimes private sector global idea sharing occurs, but it is not the first thought of business people. However, governments, schools, cities and citizens are always seeking that better, entrepreneurial way of making the public area of service the best and most cost effective. Isn’t it ironic that the public and private sectors operate on opposite ends of the “globe” in the application of idea sharing? However, isn’t it wonderful that the public sector is and should very much continue taking the lead in this area? Public resources are limited and precious. An entrepreneurial mindset going forward in the global public service idea-sharing field is not just good logic, but leadership critical.

Pichla juneNow that we have established a strong economic and leadership argument for establishing a public sector service entrepreneurship culture across the globe, let’s play the “WHAT IF?” game. WHAT IF a public sector entrepreneurship mindset was applied to the area of assisting those receiving public aid and/or are not actively engaged in work? Would anyone at a United States, county-based department of human services ever think their pilot welfare-to-work innovation may help some group in Canada or Great Britain?

The challenge of “recycling people” is unquestionably global. Every country must address the issue of retraining, reinventing and making self-sufficient those who are public system dependent. I believe that in lieu of the extremely fast pace of technological change and the upgrading of what are now entry-level jobs, effective, timely client-customer recycling must occur. As with any team or organization, you are only as good as your weakest link. Amplifying public sector entrepreneurship to this concern would be advantageous.

Based on my work/career experience, it would be easy to estimate there have been hundreds of public assistance, disability and unemployment-to-work projects tested in the United States over the years. Likewise, I would guess that just as many pilots have been employed to take on the recycling people challenge in other countries. Year-to-date unfortunately no organization or country has stumbled across the perfect program. As realists, we know that there isn’t and may never be a perfect solution because of our service clientele. However wouldn’t it be great to have a go-to, online place that would list and describe the multitude of client-customer recycling opportunities, so that any public sector group could view the “best-of-the-best” to find at least a little better way?

A second “WHAT IF?” target of global public sector entrepreneurship application may be in the area of life-long learning. The United States, along with most other developed counties, have very defined systems for education and training. This includes public schools, community colleges, trade schools and universities. These traditional options are excellent for standardized student development and occupational training. But what about life-long learning and occupational skill maintenance? As was earlier stated, technology advancements and the global economy have created a fast paced, sliding scale for basic employment competencies. Does anyone have an open-entry – open exit, public/private sector partnership initiative that is focused on basic multi-employment sector skills maintenance? Alternatively,  an initiative that companies could send a worker to who is falling behind in their “techno-skills” for a quick upgrade? Or someone who is weak in product quality requirements and could spend several hours on the latest specifics?

Creating an international employment builders alliance (IEBA) may be a global public sector entrepreneurial option. The IEBA could be a government-business partnership training entity. There would be no formal enrollment, no grades or tuition payments. Instead, any company that would be in support of entry-level workers and incumbent workers having access to a skill-maintenance/improvement cooperative would cooperatively finance the IEBA. Retooling is an action that many companies conduct as a standard business practice every year. Do companies retool their workers? Should global governments entrepreneurially assist in the worker retooling process and avoid potential unemployment and/or public assistance costs?

An IEBA would be driven by the member businesses (public and private) that contribute. Its service structure would support short-term, in-demand training needs but would not attempt to replace or compete with traditional trade school or college courses. Instead, the IEBA would fill the “skill retooling gap” and would focus on the following basic, universal worker skill areas:

–          Computer Literacy.
–          Product Quality.
–          Communications.
–          Worker/Company Productivity.
–          Workplace Operations.

These universal skill areas apply to any private business (factory, farm, bank, etc.) and to any public business (government, schools, cities, etc.)

WHAT IF…..Public Sector Entrepreneurship was Global?  Would we make a huge impact on recycling people?  Would we be able to introduce an IEBA and formally address the challenge of life-long learning? Or maybe we begin by creating an online international center for public sector innovations? It may not solve all the problems, but it sure would lead us to finding a better way forward.


Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D. is creative advisor and owner of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. He can be reached at [email protected].

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One Response to WHAT IF…Public Sector Entrepreneurship was GLOBAL?

  1. Joe Reply

    June 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Very interesting.

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