Purpose not politics. Persuasion not position. Performance not PR.
Dr. Iain MacRitchie
Are business and political partnerships possible? They don’t spend much time together, but now more than ever we need to have a meeting of minds. So what is the basis of a successful partnership necessary for our recovery? As ever, it starts with honesty in saying it the way it is. The success of the economy will determine our individual and collective wellbeing. I often wonder if people know what the ultimate source of funding is to support those who need help the most.
So how healthy is our economy to support Government spending? In the year before COVID, we spent £60bn more than taxes raised in the UK. Scotland’s deficit was £15bn. With COVID we have just added £400bn to burst through a total debt pile of £2,000bn, and it will keep rising. If autonomy or independence is an option for any country, growth is the absolute top priority and only sustainable way out of the financial mess. Tax rises will fill a gap, but not the scale. Borrowing to pay day to day bills is madness and just passes on a massive risk and burden to our children.
So business growth is the priority. It is not random and doesn’t just happen. It has to be carefully planned, choices made, focused on relentlessly and needs the right people at the right time. This is where we now need a new injection of politicians working in, and with, responsible businesses, and putting those responsible business at the heart of government. I would define responsible as those that make a social contribution and champion social mobility. Here’s an idea to build more trusting relationships. Let’s get some business professionals, politicians and civil servants swapping roles and have part-time secondments as a matter of course.
As well as some job sharing, here’s 3 Christmas requests for our COVID recovery to build the partnerships we need to come back stronger.
Purpose, not Politics
Can we please have purpose, pure and not wrapped up in politics? A purpose, in other words, a plan. Something we should set, stick to and build the required motivation, commitment and resilience to make it happen. In my experience, these are the values that transform outcomes for our most disadvantaged young people as well as organisations and, throughout history, even countries. We need to pick industries to get behind; not for fashion, but for the long term. I respect that politicians want votes and some have their livelihoods dependent on it. But let’s stick to purpose and agree on a long term plan to stop the point scoring which fuels a destructive culture of complaint, criticism and condemnation.
In my experience, these are the values that transform outcomes for our most disadvantaged young people as well as organisations and, throughout history, even countries.
Persuasion, not Position
Another for the Christmas list, we should devote all our energy on persuasion and not rely on our respective positions. I have found persuasion to be the most effective management technique even in the most challenging of situations. Mentoring is an absolutely fantastic way to learn the powers of persuasion. I may be the founder of the mentoring charity MCR Pathways, but to my mentee, with what she faced in a homeless unit whilst trying to get through her schoolwork, she didn’t need me telling her what to do. Listening became the most potent skill. As she progressed against the odds and systems, you quickly understand what matters and what does not. What should work and why it doesn’t. Policy intent can be far from the practical reality. Persuasion is often all that is left.
Performance, not PR
Lastly, a third request for a focus on performance and making a consistent impact before any PR. I’ve sat in too many meetings about establishing a new initiative, maximising the publicity and then attention inevitably moves on to the next idea before any are seen through. It would be fantastic to have consistent performance before publicity as the accepted norm for both politicians and professionals. With this foundation we would then be free to explore and find even better ways to fuse economic and social benefits.
We have a huge, hopefully once in a lifetime, opportunity to use the destruction of COVID to drive positive change.