Thursday, July 21, 2005

fixing business support

A few things that I think will fix business support in various parts of the country:

1. Do what businesses want but within the bounds of market failure and a public rationale for assistance. This mere point has been forgotten for a while.
2. Tailor support to what can guarantee some positive economic impact.
3. Lose the fantasy that the public sector can be an expert delivery agent for advice in itself. But it can play a big role in setting up such delivery.
4. Services should resemble those you can get in the market place. Plus a business should know transparently what the benefits will be from its engagement in business support.
5. Strict enforcement and external monitoring of contracts for business support services
6. Some evaluation would be nice
7. Encourage innovation and competition - lets avoid a monolithic service like the past. Clever use of contracting, key funds and bonus payments could do this. So could voucher systems
8. Within this, we can design a neater customer interface. Whats behind it may be shambolic, but if the business doesn't notice, that's the point.
9. Forget about structures aligning etc - its all about the customer journey - it needs to be quick and to the point of what the business needs to sort out its particular issues

That's it so far. Plenty more in the pipeline.


At 10:22 pm, Anonymous Tspeed4 said...

Whilst I support the well intended thoughts that underpin your views never underestimate the ability of the system to mangle and maim the principles you’ve set out. For example:

1. Market failure – now there is a very subjective concept, the standard euphemism for ‘we want to help’ but can’t justify it on economic grounds so we’ll call it a market failure;

2. Positive economic impact – only if you can first stem the relentless special pleading and show leadership in being as clear in what you won’t do as what you will

3. To enable rather than deliver is to go against every fibre of the history of business support

4. Timely evaluation would be nice – how many pilots have been rolled out before the ink had even dried on the interim report

5. Enforcement, competition and innovation require leadership to make hard decisions, to pull contracts and to call the bluff of those who sabre rattle rather than act to improve their own performance

6. As for structures not aligning – doesn’t make for neat diagrams and tidy strategies – disorder, it will never catch on

At 2:38 pm, Anonymous David said...

"To enable rather than deliver is to go against every fibre of the history of business support"

Perhaps because you can't measure enabling, but you can measure delivery?

I mean, funders don't want to know how many people were enabled by any given business support organisation, but they are interested in how many people used its services, how many people were given leaflets, and so on. Mad, but true.

At 10:59 am, Blogger Angry Economist said...

Great points folks.

Luckily I am in a position to act on some of these points. However, I agree that the real challenge is delivering on these aims and principles. So many agencies fall down at this point. However, given my position and experience I can push things a little bit further along the line.

There's much recognition that the current and past approaches to business support are flawed in many ways.

Please - keep the comments coming - they are very helpful to someone who is able to make a little bit of difference in this arena.


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