Monday, January 24, 2011

Those Darned Canadians

I recently read some observations of Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams in their book, Macrowikinomics, Rebooting Business and the World. Oddly enough, their observations of government characteristics are recognizable, and yet they both reside in Toronto. Here’s some of what they say in this thought provoking book:

“Despite being a decade into the twenty-first century, the unfortunate reality is that most governments still reflect industrial age organizational thinking, based on the same command-and-control model as industrial age enterprises.

…As government got bigger, and the revenue of government increased, it became necessary to build more elaborate procedures, structures, and controls, all run by new layers of professional managers. These bureaucracies operated like individual “stovepipes” – with information only flowing vertically and rarely between departments.
…Despite numerous attempts, very little has changed in the past half century.
… The good news is that just as new waves of innovation are washing over the private sector, opportunities to harness new models of collaboration and innovation are arriving at the doorstep of governments everywhere.

… If politicians and public servants are to ensure their relevance and authority going forward, they must move quickly to meet rising expectations for openness, accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency.

…While industrial age government was based on monopoly of power, and structured around rigid hierarchies, today’s governments need to distribute power broadly and leverage innovation, knowledge, and value from the private sector and civil society.”

I see our support system for intellectual disabilities struggling across the US. I have found some inspiration reading this book. In many ways I feel we have a great opportunity right here in Colorado. This is our time. We can reshape our thinking.

Then again, what do I know?


  1. Thanks, Mark! I think there are great opportunities, but I have to emphasize that the authors are writing/based in Toronto. I don't see American national or state governments getting bigger or wealthier. Seems that I've heard "more with less" for the last 20 years. The public sector has, indeed, done more with less, over and over. Innovation is commended. So is efficiency. But as governments adapt/innovate, financial and human resources are as necessary as ever. Proper and sufficient resources will assure good service... which is what we're about, I guess.

  2. Todd, you are right - the boys from Canada I'm sure were not thinking about Colorado. I made that leap when I got to the part about information flowing vertically and rarely between departments. Although we have experienced some improvement, our service system must respond to three departments and multiple divisions within departments simply to deliver one kind of service; to support citizens with developmental disabilities. I know this is not the case in all states; some are better than others at this game. Resources are tight. We have a new administration. I maintain we a ripe for reform. - Mark