While talking with some people milling around the back of a recent standing-room-only public meeting, I asked a guy what he thought of the agency official who’d just finished another mind-numbing half-hour PowerPoint presentation. He deadpanned, “Yeah, well, I’d like to buy him a new toaster for his bathtub.”
I had to give him a B+ for creativity. However, the sad truth is that, while we work with a lot of good, committed and talented public sector people and officials who are generally interested in the greater good, the greater good is generally no longer interested in them.
Government Credibility is in the Commode
The credibility and value of the people and institutions that manage and administer public policy are under attack at a level of intensity that most of us have never seen before. To do the work for our common benefit will require the (re) building of trust…and this is a good place to start:
Expertise, experience and education don’t seem to mean much to a lot of people who really only pay attention to things that they think are truly relevant to them. The solution isn’t easy, but there are strategies to deal with the challenge:
Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer measures the attitudes of 33,000 people in 28 countries. It’s not a pretty picture, and not just for government. Edelman also looks at business, media and NGO’s…they’re all tanking. People trust individuals far more than they do institutions, which means that rebuilding trust starts with rebuilding interpersonal relationships, one at a time:
Talking about relationships in a professional setting makes a lot of people uncomfortable. So, as long as we’re on that subject, let’s take it one step farther:
Most solutions to fixing the lack of credibility and mistrust of institutions applies about equally to government and business…trust has to be earned:
If Government Really Is Broke, Maybe This Can Fix It
People have been complaining about government since government was invented. However, if you actually have a better idea, then it might be worth $5 million.
Good luck and remember who told you about this…my birthday’s coming up:
Dispute Resolution, Community Engagement & Meeting Facilitation Training
The Participation Company (TPC) partners facilitate, consult, coach and train public- and private-sector people with their community conflicts and public engagement programs. Our job is to help you do yours.
Open registration International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes remaining in 2017 include:
The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:
* Orlando, FL: October 16 – 20
* Walnut Creek, CA: November 6 – 10
IAP2 Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation 2-Day Course (The newly freshened, hands-on workshop — previously known as “Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation” – has an updated manual and is now gluten free):
* Chicago, IL: August 17 – 18
* Tacoma, WA: September 26 – 27
* Denver, CO: November 16 – 17
Facilitation for Public Participation Practitioners:
* Denver, CO: October 25 – 27
Click on http://TheParticipationCompany.com to
to join us and watch for more IAP2-branded and other original courses in 2017. We continually work with a variety of clients to customize in-house training for their specific challenges.
You’ll also find a lot more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Doug Sarno and me, and an occasional guest at http://TheParticipationCompany.com/blog/.
The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
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