After some months of inertia but now back in the mountain house, I’m now able to take a fresh look at drafts which have been lying untouched since the end of last year eg the material on the global efforts to make state organisations more effective which I’ve been working on for quite some years. So I have to be ruthless in my editing – particularly since a lot of new material was I introduced last autumn – both a series of posts in the autumn and reflections from my last 4 projects. A method I’ve found effective in this editing is to -
· stop reading when the text breaks away to pursue another idea
· reduce the argument of that section to a short and distinctive statement
· develop a table whose middle column reproduces those statements
I find this both helps sharpen the text and ensures the material flows more smoothly. I applied the method to the autumn series and got this result -
· At least 8 very different groups have been active in shaping our thinking about “reform” efforts
· These are - academics, journalists, politicians, think-tankers, global bodies, senior officials, consultants and an indeterminate group
· each uses very different language and ideas – with academics being the most prolific (but tending to talk in jargon amongst themselves; and therefore being ignored by the rest of us)
· In 1989 “the state” crumbled – at least in eastern europe… 20 years on. how do we assess the huge efforts to make its operations more “effective”??
· 15 question offer a key to the most interesting writing on the matter.
· Different parts of the world have their own very different approaches and ways of talking about reform. English language material has tended to dominate the literature; but Scandinavians, Germans and French let alone South Americans, Chinese and Indians have also developed important ideas and experience - of which English-speakers tend to be blithely unaware.
· Two very different “world views” have held us in thrall over the past 50 years….a “third” and more balanced (eg the “new public service”) has been trying to emerge
· We seem to be overwhelmed by texts on reform experience – but most written by academics. Where are the journalists who can help the public make sense of it all ?
· Some old hands have tried to summarise the experience for us in short and clear terms. The lesson, they suggest, is that little has changed…
· Perhaps the time has come to give the doers a voice?