In the discussion of The Nature of Managed Change I described change as a process and stated that it would include
- Planning & Organisational learning
- Involvement and Commitment
- Facilitation, Team work & problem solving
Here I develop what this means for politics; policy making should be open, pragmatic (evidence based), non-partisan and non-ideological and in a change from what we do now it would represent a step towards a shared vision. The vision of what good looks like based on a deep understanding our ourselves as social primates and the human activity system which we all participate in.
Open policy making
From the discussion of party politics in Part 2 - Present - Current Politics we can see the basic problem. Parties make policy and seek election to enact them. To make policy you either need to be a party member and then gain access to the policy making part of that, or you need to be an academic or activist working for a think tank or NGO. Not all parties have groups within them open to all interested members to contribute it, as Labour does.
Most of the stuff that goes on in domestic politics has direct relevance to everyone so what is wrong with developing a structure that allows citizens to contribute to policy making? If we can cope with a public enquiry on the route to be followed by HS2 why not an open policy forum on transport or infrastructure? Part of the answere, as we have seen, is that politics attracts power seekers who (albeit often with good intentions) want to do things to us not with us. Another part of the answer is simply that politicians like their pet projects. For some who become, recognised experts in a particular area, the pet project may be sensible, but we don’t have any guarantees and our political process is designed for contest. The fact that Frank Field (Labour) agreed with the direction of travel in changes to benefits proposed by Ian Duncan Smith (Conservative) has not stopped the design and rollout of Universal Credit being a highly contested party-political football. In the application and roll out, it can hardly be said to meet a test of good governance. The levels of indebtedness and hardship that are being created as it is implemented should, by any reasonableness test, be unacceptable.
Pragmatic evidence based
There is one area where the government has stepped away from direct involvement, where the evidence is highly technical and needs to be evaluated, the National Institute for Health Care and Clinical Evidence.
Despite the technical nature of its subject matter it is committed to being open and involving lay people. Many of its meetings (and it looks like all its important ones) occur in public
“NICE's advisory committee meetings, technology appraisal appeal hearings, public board meetings and a range of other meetings are open to the public and press to observe.” and “The Citizens Council provides NICE with a public perspective on overarching moral and ethical issues that NICE has to take account of when producing guidance.”
This is an example of best practice and as close to a holistic approach as we are likely to get in the UK in 2018. The problem is it seems to be unique. With this as an example it should not be possible to argue that some areas are too complicated for lay people to appreciate or be engaged with. However, this level of involvement does not extend to Health Trust management.
When we look at education the contrast to NICE couldn't be more striking. The only public involvement catered for in Ofsted is the online capture of parental evidence on their child’s school.
If we were following NICE as an example we’d have citizens oversight on the inspection regimes, the national curriculum and approaches to schooling. It’s actually worse than this: “Once a school becomes an Academy the elected members of the existing governing body lose all control and the external sponsors or Academy Trust are allowed to appoint the majority of governors. Academies are only obliged to have two parent governors. They are not required to have a teacher governor or staff governor”
and...“An academy chain says it has no intention of having parent governors in its schools, despite the education secretary saying that schools should have them”
Within holistic political economy there would always be oversight bodies representing stakeholders for all areas where good governance is needed to deliver services to civil society
Non-partisan and non-ideological
Change that is partisan and ideological is change based on belief rather than evidence and assessment. Of course, everyone has beliefs, but less than 2% of people are party members (Part 2 - Present - Limited Participation and Disengagement)
It is a task for holistic political economy to devise approaches to participation and engagement that are non-partisan, when members of the public hear the evidence from experts including the disagreements of experts, asking the public to decide would also reduce the likelihood of ideological decisions.
Next steps towards vision
To recap the vision is;
- Holistic Political Economy; Provide the resources for all citizens to achieve their potential within sustainable global limits
- Politics; collaboration to achieve good governance
- Business; endeavour to improve the common wealth
In this section we have seen that by using a systematic approach to change management we can continually measure where we have got to and whether what is being done is working. Such an evaluation is only one step away from defining the next step.