We cannot deal with small organisations

Do we have any chance of getting the public sector to understand the motor of the British economy? I despair even though Alastair has started making the right noises. I suspect him of electioneering.



Last week I attended a conference at which some Director of some county council spoke. He was actually quite good – as a speaker. His talk had nothing to do with business as such but he said something which made me flip – but I did keep quiet – you would be proud of me.


Mr Director, on a six figure salary no doubt as his boss makes some £220,000 I read in the paper today, plus car, pension, golden handshakes, loads of holidays and ‘I don’t feel so good’ days, said county authorities are large organisations. We knew that of course though I would prefer to call them bloated, principally at the top.


Nevertheless, he went on to say that as large organisations they are entirely comfortable in dealing with other large organisations. Probably because they can then get lost in each other’s bureaucracies, rather than in achieving anything constructive. He added, and this is where I flipped, that they were entirely uncomfortable with smaller organisations, which was bad luck for the smaller organisations.


This sort of matches the comment some other director of another county made to me a few months ago. They could not deal with small businesses as they did not speak with one voice. I wonder where they get taught this stuff. As if big businesses all have the same needs. In fact look at the strife within their organisations.


BA wants to cut the benefits of its pampered crews, mainly to simply survive. The crew goes on strike over it, but it is unclear how many agree with the strikes. Just because one person has a particular focus and broadcasts that as the opinion of the airline, does not mean everyone has that same opinion.


The same is true for Enterprise Britain. Some companies are struggling with customers paying and need funding for that. Others need to expand and need support there. A third group needs marketing help and on it goes. What none of us need is the vast amounts of paperwork thrown at us by the disciples of these county council directors, or worse from the tax suckers in Whitehall.


What we also do not need is advice from all these people who have never set foot in Enterprise Britain ever in their lives and never will.


Do these people really know what it is like to lie in bed worrying about the payroll, or the VAT bill week after week?


Do they have any understanding what it is like to spend weeks or even months giving some two bit banker information and answers to inane questions only to be turned down by some anonymous group somewhere far away whom you never get to see?


Do they have any idea what cost control means as they build their careers in the comfort of warm offices and their only worry is whether they have followed procedures?


Labour proved time and again they have no time for the 4.8 million people who make up Enterprise Britain. Ken Clarke is making the right noises, but Dyson representing SMEs? Get a panel of current entrepreneurs or preferably even several panels.


Look for 3 important issues and solve them – then pick the next 3, etc. We cannot solve all problems in one go in any system, but you will gain respect that you are doing something other than writing long reports and organising meetings. And in the meantime – cut those county council directors down to size or even better, get rid of them.

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