GOVERNMENT by David Osborne and Peter Plastrik. Addison-Wesley, 1997.


Reinvention is not just about reform, nor is it simply synonymous with downsizing, or privatization, or cutting waste and fraud.

It is much deeper, like CHANGING the DNA of public organizations --- so you will habitually innovate and continually improve your organizational performance levels without having to be pushed from outside your organization.

The FIVE Cs for successfully "REINVENTING" government:

  1. The "Core Strategy" --- to help you create clarity of purpose as a leader;

  2. The "Consequences Strategy" --- to introduce consequences for the performance of all your public employees;

  3. The "Customer Strategy" --- to make public employees accountable to their customers (the public);

  4. The "Control Strategy" --- to empower your organization and your public employees to innovate; and

  5. The "Culture Strategy" --- to change the habits, hearts and minds of your public employees.


It took a village to write this book --- a virtual village of thousands of far-flung reinventors who shared their knowledge and experience --- through interviews, e-mail, discussions, and articles, memos and private papers.

What always came through was their magnificent spirit --- the joy of innovators who undertake important work.
The world reinventors inhabit is a world of many unknowns. There are no easy answers. Leaders must struggle to get traction on very slippery terrain, often with very few resources other than their own wits. Like the pioneers who moved West more than a century ago, they must find pathways through the wilderness, discover water holes, and pick out accessible mountain passes. But they have one advantage the early covered-wagon pioneers did not have, namely, they have "access maps."

The book REINVENTING GOVERNMENT --- see the ten principles to assess your own government organization or department --- drew a rough map of the new world of the 21st century government organizations.

This book begins to put routes on that map, to make it easier for reinventors to follow the pioneers and stake their own claims. In this book you can learn the strategies that have worked for the pioneers of reinvention --- with examples from all over the world. You can learn how they produced the dramatic results they did --- and the "lessons" they learned along the trail.

This book is "prescriptive" since it provides practical know-how that you can apply to your organization.

To succeed, you must set off chain reactions in your organization, find "dominoes" that will set all others falling!

In short, you must be "STRATEGIC!"

But reinvention is NOT "reorganization," it is not about moving boxes on an organization chart!

Reinvention is about the restructuring of YOUR public organization by CHANGING its purposes, its incentives, its ACCOUNTABILITY, its distribution of power, and its culture.

As you do this, you may decide that it makes sense to alter the organization chart --- but you don't need to start with the chart. Otherwise, you will probably exhaust yourself long before you change anything important.

Reinvention is still a work in progress, being made up as leaders apply the "FIVE C's" or FIVE PRINCIPLES of organizational success!

PART 1--- Finding your leverage

PART 2 --- The five strategies:

  1. Creating clarity of purpose
  2. Creating consequences for performance
  3. Putting the customer in the driver's seat
  4. Shifting control away from the top and center
  5. Creating an entrepreneurial culture
Part III: Using the strategies--

  1. Aligning the strategies (p301-319)
  2. The courage to reinvent (p320-346)
APPENDIX A: The principles of reinventing government (p350-358)



NOTES (p359)

INDEX (p383)

Go to: Change and Resistance to Change at Work
Go to: Leadership and Bureaucracy at Work
Go to: Keyword Glossary of Leadership Ideas
Go to: Interactive Index