Why we wrote a book about public sector management

On Wednesday 2nd December my friend Marcial and I launch our book ‘The Public Sector Fox’. 


We had plenty of reasons for writing the book but chief amongst them was the lack of attention paid to public sector management as a discipline in its own right.  In the world of management writing and thinking the public sector is not so much the bridesmaid at the wedding as the mud-stained car park attendant.

The most striking symptom of this is that on Amazon, as in most book shops, management appears as a sub-category under Business – in Amazon’s world all management is private sector management.  And yet managing in the public sector is different and certainly more complicated and more interesting than managing in the private sector.  We hope our book goes some way to redress the balance. 


Pique was not the only motivation.  We also feel there is a lot to say about public sector management.  The last major overhaul it received was New Public Management and in many ways the thinking behind it – best summed up by the maxim ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ – still dominates management thinking.  But the ‘New’ in New Public Management is deceptive.  It was introduced in the 1980’s and, though it has been hugely useful in many respects, it is creaking at the edges.  Public sector managers now operate in a world where hard, and often impossible to measure outcomes are more important than easy to measure outputs.  A world where easy to understand hierarchies have been replaced by more complex relationships between organisations and sectors.  And a world in which public sector managers must both exploit the benefits and deal with the consequences of technology which was unimaginable in the 1980’s.


We therefore set ourselves the task of working out from scratch the skills we think public sector managers need to thrive in this environment.  We came up with twelve and the concept of the Public Sector Fox (more on that in my next blog). 


Of course we hope you will buy our book to learn more about these twelve.  But even more importantly we hope you will share your thoughts about managing in the public sector in the twenty-first century.  We have set up a group page on K-Hub and a forum which already has two threads running.  Please join us here.  

You can also join us at a webinar on Monday 7th December where we will introduce the book and the twelve skills. 

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