Book Review: Rethinking Public Strategy

CSW reviews the latest release from The Public Management and Leadership Series 


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By Rebecca Sims

07 Nov 2014

Having foolishly dedicated a year of my life to studying and analysing models of public policy-making (yes, really), I was quite keen to read something by two people who’d actually worked in… policy-making, and the UK civil service specifically. This is a rarity in the field of public policy analysis, and I wanted to see if they had anything new to explain which could be applied to practitioners, rather than just to students.

Both the authors have been working in Whitehall for many years. Sean Lusk is head of strategy at the Valuation Office Agency, and was a principal lecturer at the National School of Government until it was dissolved in 2012. Nick Birks previously headed up the horizon scanning team at HM Revenue & Customs.

Rethinking Public Strategy is a new release from The Public Management and Leadership Series – aimed at providing more concise and accessible theories on the future challenges of public strategy. And the book does exactly that. The authors have the clear tone of people who are genuinely interested in better service delivery, and this makes it easily accessible for readers working in the public sector. If there’s one key theme, it’s that governments (indeed, all decision-makers) should start focusing only on long-term strategies, and stop “muddling through” by tackling short-term problems.

If 200 pages on models of public service sounds a bit heavy for your morning commute, borrow a copy and have a quick read of the short case studies from other governments around the globe. Each chapter has a great example from other governments of public strategies that have worked well, as well as those that have simply been a disaster.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. This is worth a read for those interested in improving public strategy. 

Rethinking Public Strategy
By Sean Lusk & Nick Birks
£27.99, Palgrave McMillan

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