Many of our public services are facing the greatest challenges ever as the enforced spending rationalisations and drives to efficiency arguably place them in the situation private sector businesses have had to deal with throughout the economic upheavals of the last 30 years. Our new public services have a number of significant advantages as they take on the challenges left by the legacy of New Labour.

Talent and ability is certainly not in short supply. As the old guard shuffle off to enjoy the delights of the Caravan and Golf Clubs of Great Britain, their successors have an opportunity to throw off the shackles and limitations of old thinking.  They do however need to be given the chance to fly on their own and not have their wings clipped by hyper cautious management.

Focus on the needs of the customer – yes the customer! Or patient, passenger, victim, resident and citizen. A philosophy of customer first changes the perspective. Understand what your customers expect and you have a target and a focus to manage against. The problem? Most public services don’t really find out what their customers need or expect or would be happy with. Artificial and arbitrary performance targets are one result – where a whole load of energy, effort and resource gets directed and wasted by not applying itself to the task in hand – meeting the needs and expectations of the people they serve.

So to the new and fresh thinkers in public service we are reaching out and saying take some time out to understand exactly what your customers want from you. Let them decide the criteria and then you can apply the resource you have to a set of priorities which have a chance of making a difference.

Brave New World? It could be ….