Ideas in Action

December 19, 2014 | Posted by: Rob Camm

How the Grinch stole public value … or did he?

How do we know we are delivering public value? More importantly, will the chosen mix of inputs and outputs truly deliver the public value outcome we expect and desire?

As a father with young children, this time of year brings great excitement, the long wish list of presents and the inevitable count down to Christmas Day. My youngest has just started reading Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and other tongue twisters by Dr Seuss. Reflecting on the festive season and the public value proposition made me think of another Dr Seuss tale – How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

For those of you less familiar with the story, for some unknown reason the Grinch hated Christmas. He decided he must stop Christmas from coming to all the Whos in Who-ville. So on Christmas Eve, he stole all their presents and even the food out of their fridges. He was about to destroy them all until he heard something. All the Whos in Who-ville had gathered together to sing and celebrate the festive season – with not a present or Christmas feast in sight.

Stealing all the presents

So what’s the public value message I hear you ask? It’s clear that the Grinch ‘got the policy settings wrong’. He thought taking away the presents (inputs) would ruin the Christmas celebrations (output) in Who-ville and make every Who unhappy (outcome). How wrong he was. The Whos didn’t need presents to feel connected as a community (public value outcome). Simply being together sharing songs of happiness was all that was required. The Grinch mistakenly believed changing the inputs would change the public value outcome. The results speak for themselves. Many organisations, like the Grinch, also misunderstand the linkage between inputs, outputs and outcomes. As a public value consultancy we can help bring clarity to these linkages and help you optimise public value outcomes.

Like the Whos in Who-ville this is the time of year to enjoy the holiday season and spend time with family and friends. On that note, all of us at Cube Group wish you a happy and safe Christmas and look forward to helping you deliver public value in 2015.

How the Grinch stole public value ... or did he?

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