I wonder why we think of government as 'slow'

Submitted by puxapuak on Wed, 04/08/2020 - 15:22

In a conversation I was in recently, we were discussing the amazing pace of change in our workplaces - whole policies and procedures and structures embedded in the operation of a place being ripped up and redesigned in a matter of days, every day a scramble to catch up on what new directives were coming down from above that might potentially change fundamental parts of our day to day activities and work. But the kicker there is that we were both government employees in this conversation. The new directives were coming down from politicians making new law in a matter of days and hours - new law to meet the immediate needs of the people, of the nation.

It got me thinking though to that and other conversations recently. We are used to thinking in our culture of the government as a slow ponderous beast, filled with the bureaucratic inertia of many people doing things the same way they've always done. On the other hand, we are to a similar degree socialized to think of business as quick and agile, able to turn on a dime to meet a new market demand.

Why do these ideas exist? Is it even a common case that this stereotype is based on? I'd like to think that whenever an organizations feet are put to the fire they will get shit done, but thinking of those organizations and collectives that failed through history, it seems more that businesses fall more into the column of failing to adapt to change quickly enough to survive.

i mean, if a business is adaptive, they survive. if they don’t, they fail. so, we see these companies around us and assume they must be adapting because they haven’t (yet) failed.

our experience of government is through bureaucracy. makes sense that we would see it as moving slowly when we get the cheque in March for the energy rebate we apply for in December. doesn’t really matter that the act that made that cheque possible took a week or two to be made active. we didn’t experience that. 


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