Would-be mutuals must overcome fear of failure and embrace risk

By David Bicknell

A lack of confidence and fear of failure must be overcome if the government’s goal of seeing employee-led mutuals take off is to be achieved.

The government believes that by 2015, one in six public servants could be involved in mutuals. The problem is giving them the confidence to use their undoubted knowledge of public service delivery and take advantage of the flexibility that running your own business brings, as opposed to the frustrations of years of a ‘can’t do’ approach that meekly says ‘..but we’ve always done it this way.”

As a number of speakers at the Civil Service event – including Peter Marsh, vice-chair of the Mutuals Task Force, My CSP head Phil Bartlett, and Mitie’s chief executive Ruby McGregor-Smith – suggested, those within the public sector, and especially the Civil Service – do have the ability to overcome their fears of failure, and indeed, as it emerged from one mutuals seminar, their worries about competing against the private sector or their discomfort about having some ‘conflict of interest’ within the wider public sector about using their knowledge to set up a mutual. As was pointed out, using that knowledge and embracing the flexibility of running your own (employee-owned) ship, is just what the Cabinet Office wants them to do.

More on Civil Service Live to follow. In the meantime, the Guardian is carrying an excellent piece on fear of failure and the acceptance of risks in mutuals.

You can read it at http://www.guardian.co.uk/social-enterprise-network/2011/jul/06/fear-failure-public-service-mutuals

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