The key reasons for writing How to Survive Austerity

mike gill author

Since I published How to Survive Austerity earlier this year people have asked me why I decided to write a book so it seemed to be good fodder for a blog post…

Over the course of my career, I have attained a great understanding of the nature of public services as well as the people that work in the sector. I have also developed an understanding of how improvement and efficiency can be delivered to public services.

I am passionate about ensuring the UK always has strong public services delivered at a cost comparable with that which can be purchased from the private sector. The recent push by government to implement austerity across the UK has involved reducing the scale and scope of public services.

The recent events following last month’s EU Referendum, and the subsequent changes across political parties, only adds another layer of uncertainty. You couldn’t write a script like it. I’ve limited blogs on this subject as frankly, I have no better insight on what will happen and am as transfixed by the seemingly endless surprises our politicians have unveiled over the last few weeks. And I am sure there is more to come and it’s a great parlor game in my house to shout out the next trend before it happens.

Most public service managers feel helpless in the face of those threats. Many will fear for their livelihoods and feel overwhelmed by the scale of change they are being asked to deliver.

And whilst many people may not even understand what public sector services are and what they deliver, the austerity drive has been accompanied by increased antipathy, even animosity, towards the public sector. All of which provides the impression of a ‘siege’ of the public service. But I have also been very encouraged over the last six months at the resilience of public sector managers against such adversity. There are limits to that resilience and I worry that may be coming to its limit.

Many books have been written on the subject of bringing strategic change to the public sector. Indeed, many of the lessons provided in such books are used as examples of How To Survive Austerity. However if struggled to find a book which:

  • Targets managers of public service facing such austerity
  • Offered such a simple and non-service specific technique that can be so universally applied to improve services
  • Appealed so directly to the survival instincts of those managing public services.

The 7-step approach places much of the decision-making and judgement on service improvement onto service managers. They are required to take responsibility for their own future. By avoiding resource-heavy delivery structures (typical of many consultant-led government improvement programmes), the approach is both cost-effective to apply and will deliver the results the government wants, quickly. The book aims to appeal to government as well as addressing the fears of service managers who are faced with the challenge of austerity.

What I’m suggesting will not require significant investment in change resources and is a common sense, good value approach to delivering efficiency. Not at all what most consultant-led improvement techniques seek to promulgate.

If you haven’t read How to Survive Austerity please do – and importantly let me know what you think.

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