Kevin Horne is CEO of one of the UK most successful enterprise agencies. He has been in the game for a long time now and understands, as well as anyone, how it works, both in terms of policy and operations. So when he writes a blog post about the new ‘Solutions for Business‘ we should listen to him. Carefully. We should listen between the lines too.
The government has recently launched its “Solutions for Businesses” product portfolio which is the result of much consultation under the Business Support Simplification Programme. On reading the proposals it is difficult to see much to argue with; the product range is rationalised, it hits the main elements of support that a new, growing and maturing business will need and it is simple to understand. So why is it that I still retain some element of doubt that we will see real change?
Is it just me that reads ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose‘? (The more it changes, the more it is the same thing).
I wanted to post a comment of my own thoughts. Kevin’s analysis says essentially that the bureacrats and policy wonks have once again provided a framework in which things can change and yet WILL remain the same. I agree with him. However I do think the entrepreneur can find another option. Here is the jist of what I would have commented (had I been smart enough to find the comment buttton!):
Kevin, over the last 20 years I have witnessed a number of such re-births of business support – as have you. None have been transformational, either for us as suppliers or for our customers.
It is easy for us to blame the policy makers for this. They are culpable. This is a classic bureaucratic mindset. ‘Sorry our services remains so far beneath their potential to transform and inspire. Our managers/funders won’t let us deliver on such lofty ambitions.’
What would an entrepreneurial mindset think? ‘We can and must transform and inspire. How can we do this within the existing rules of the game? How can we effectively engage the guardians of the rules of the game so that they are changed? Substantially?
Once you engage advisers and other service providers on the challenge of transforming and inspiring they become liberated, imaginative and creative. They get fired up. They form more honest and powerful relationships with clients. They no longer turn the handle on the sausage machine. They engage.
Instead of pointing the finger at the bureaucrats (which is one of my favourite past-times too) we have to find the wriggle room to do something exceptional. Because if we believe we are to preside over yet another re-arrangement of the deck chairs then that is ALL we will do.
As an aside I suspect that Kevin’s comments and my reactions will hardly be noticed. The business support industry has still not discovered the web. Where it does use the web it uses it as an extension of its push marketing stratgey. It certainly does not get web 2.0.
That in itself tells us why so often business support still fails to engage.