As all good Strategy Consultants will tell you; cut corners when consulting and your vision of the future will be undermined leading to a strategy built on a flawed process pointing in too vague a direction.
But what of cutting out consultation altogether? Politicians have a tried and tested tool for doing just that…..
Only a couple of weeks ago we published a blog titled; ‘The Importance Of Asking The Right Question’. The article was intended to point out how simply asking questions when consulting, researching or seeking evidence is not enough. Those questions need to be the right questions or the information gathered is insufficient, flawed or irrelevant.
We also warned against the tactic increasingly employed by so called ‘Modernisers’ in which they deliberately ignore using sound consultation techniques in order to push through their own view of the future and to seem reasonable in doing so.
Skilfully employed, this tactic soon becomes one of seemingly reasonable argument about the need for change versus seemingly unreasonable argument about the need for status quo. You are either for ‘Modernisation’ or you are a dinosaur. And who wants to be a dinosaur?
New Labour when in Government was extremely adept at using this tactic and it was rare that other visions of the future were given a hearing. This tactic excludes that, in being for change you are offered only the ‘Modernisers’ picture of the future.
It would now appear that David Cameron studied New Labour closely and learned well. For despite all the promises of proper consultation on change, of a Big Society being asked about its own future, he has struck the classic ‘Moderniser’ stance over the Coalition’s NHS reforms. He even uses the word ‘modernise’ knowing few right minded individuals will argue, the NHS does need reform, it does need change.
Anyone opposed to the proposed reforms of the NHS has been told to grow up, has been belittled for believing in some unsustainable status quo and has been lectured on the need for change. New Labour would be proud, it’s all part of being painted the dinosaur, of allowing no valid alternative view.
But the only version of change on offer is the Government’s. Cameron tells us we can’t afford not to ‘modernise’ (that word again), he asks if not now, then when? He tells us we can’t put it off any longer. He sounds almost reasonable; I mean, who in their right mind would oppose ‘modernisation’ of something we all agree needs reforming?
As a nation we fall for it time and time again. You don’t want to be a dinosaur so although you don’t agree with the changes offered, you stay quiet.
But what of the promised Big Society? What of the proper consultation with communities having a say in such things? What of options, what of the other visions of the future which might exist?
We should remind ourselves that the reason for change is not simply for the sake of it. No, it is to improve. And to maximise improvement we need to know which routes to improvement are open to us.
Beware the ‘Moderniser’ for genuine modernisation (read change) in the best way is not their aim. There is no need for the right question, for proper consultation for their way is a far more selfish, far less intelligent, ‘I know best and you’re a fool to suggest otherwise’ simplified to the more palatable question, ‘are you in favour of modernisation or are you a dinosaur?’
Consultation plays no part.
Big Society? It feels more like Big State all over again.
© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, 2011