Book News: August 12th, 2010

By Keith Grint

This final report on Total Place ‘Problem, purpose, power, knowledge, time and space’ commissioned by Local Government Leadership (formerly the Leadership Centre for Local Government) draws out lessons from the thirteen pilot projects.

The report suggests that mapping local expenditure is relatively simple and very enlightening. It reveals that very large sums of public money are expended on a small number of recipients and much of the funding is channelled into repairing social problems rather than preventing them.

Very often such problems are treated as tame – essentially open to ‘fixing’ through efficiency drives and more rational processes. However, many such problems are wicked not tame and are thus beyond conventional ‘fixes’. Furthermore, identifying the problem and its costs is always easier than constructing a more effective alternative, especially when the ‘solution’ is imposed from outside – by central government or from above – by the organization itself.

Total Place suggests that enrolling the ‘customer’, ‘citizen’ or ‘consumer’ of public services in the resolution of their own problems is not just politically important but practically critical.

Total Place is about many things including creating a legacy and an increased capacity for local leadership through the provision of opportunities to do something differently. It provides an opportunity to learn to lead.

Problem, purpose, power, knowledge, time and space is available from LGL