Time to move beyond ‘Paint it Black’

By David Bicknell

I can see what Craig Dearden-Philips is getting at in this blog, but I’m not sure it needs to paint such a dire economic picture. There is too much talking down of the economy. No-one will spend any money because everyone from politicians to forecasters to social entrepreneurs to journalists  is trying to out-do each other and paint the blackest picture. There’s no leadership there – just followship.

Dearden-Philips argues that “a crisis of the sort we’re probably heading into will, one way or another, make it far more attractive to reinvent than cut back services. Careers – political and professional – will not survive if slash’n’burn is the modus operandi. For those of us who have long been advocating a reinvention of public services this could end up being, our moment.

“So spin-outs, community-based services, co-ops, innovations that allow decommissioning – all of these things could have a political attractiveness that is currently missing. The sadness is that it will take things getting really quite catastrophically bad before that happens.”

He’s right that spin-outs, community-based services, co-ops, innovations that allow decommissioning do need the right landscape to thrive. But how many employees will feel like spinning out when the picture is painted this black? Better to cling on ‘inside’ than venture – an appropriate word – out and create something new. Employee ownership? Out there? No thanks. I’ll just stay here.

If the government wants to see mutuals thrive, it has to paint a picture of opportunity and  create the right environment to create enthusiam, drive, and investment. That means spurning the negative talk that’s all too easy to do and creating the right environment for change and the tools  – finance, procurement etc – to achieve it.

Is the government up to do the job? When it makes its next pronouncement on open public services, it has to provide the impetus to reinforce  a willing mentality that says ‘Yes, can do’ not ‘Paint it Black.’

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But that’s what governments are for: to govern and provide the right environment for change. 

Positive thinking, leadership and action please, not negative no-choices. Opportunity; not opt out.

Global 300 co-operatives generate $1.6 trillion revenue

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