My old mum used to say to me “you have to be cruel to be kind” – usually when administering iodine to a bloodied knee, or convincing me that swallowing cod-liver oil (or some other semi-noxious substance) really was good for my health.
The analogy of my formative years can roughly translate to the contemporaneous age of impending austerity – the public sector is poised on the brink of swallowing, what appears to be, some rather nasty medicine.
But, on reflection, my mum had a point – and the medicine actually did me some good. In the traditions of a SWOT analysis – the challenge ahead provides enormous opportunity, as well as threat.
Sir William Beveridge (see previous blog post – the Beveridge Curve) founder of the welfare state (The Beveridge report 1942) realised that his socio-economic model whilst addressing many societal problems also created another set of issues…in particular the creation of a dependency culture in people.
Sutton’s Chief Executive, Paul Martin, comments on this societal concern in MJ Magazine (page 13, 13 May 2010) in an article titled ‘Why independence is key’. Paul advocates the transformation of service delivery for vulnerable adults to promote independence and to redefine the social contract between the individual, family and state – making a shift to a ‘liberating’ relationship, rather than a ‘dependency’ relationship. It’s well worth a read.
Shifting embedded behaviour is not to be under-estimated in terms of the scale of effort required, whether in society or within organisations. Equally, reducing the UK’s deficit is also a daunting task. But the situation, by necessity (see previous blog post – Necessity the Mother of Invention) does provide the momentum for real change and the cuts, if managed well, could produce better outcomes for our citizens. Without this ‘necessity’ it’s arguable that we’d all carry on in the same old way.
Pass me the cod-liver oil…