Staying focused

I was talking to a friend this weekend who is about to go through a divorce. He says that for the last couple of years he has been up and about doing different things, meeting new people, trying out new experiences, making career progress and yet his wife has not moved on in all that time. That’s a sad situation and I wish it weren’t so. But:

Working in government is a bit like that some days. I go out and sit in meetings with clever people who have great ideas about what we could do with a bit of a push there, a bit of money here, a change in emphasis somewhere else. A couple of pilots, a quick rollout, a plan to gain scale rapidly. And then I get to come back to the government office where things haven’t moved on and there are issues with doing something like that – procurement, financial, competition, change control, general resistance, the we’ve always done it another way argument, whatever. So if you’re a guy it feels like you’ve come home to Nora Batty (only with worse wrinkles and a bigger rolling pin); if you’re a girl, you’ve come home to Compo.

But for every day when it feels like that there are other days when good progress is made, when a few things slot together and a deal comes off, when some like-minded people from departments hit on an idea and want to do it. Those days are relatively few and far between, but they make it worth sticking at it. For every press report or survey that says it’s all awful, that this target or the other target should be scrapped, there are a few others that actually talk about what’s really going on and present the good side as well as the bad side (there’s still too much bad side to show for the efforts to date, but that’s for another day).

So … if you’re at that difficult point, it’s worth looking at what could be, what might be and what should be. Why else would any of us do it?

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