Something is bubbling in society. They do not want to wait for the government to set targets and take action. Sustainability initiatives like Urgenda are born that way. Self organised actions to change the status quo. Grass roots initiatives that reach thousands of people. But don’t think that people working in the public sector are passively observing this momentum. Instead, they are joining the people in the street, the private initiatives, the start-up industry. A new public sector is emerging. Simône Huijs, public pioneer in the city of Venray edited magnificent book with many rich stories of courageous civil servants, local pioneers and others who signify the new economy. The take home message: this movement is here to stay and we are only seeing the beginning.
Who are these public pioneers?
Public pioneers are the civil servants who work with the energy of the emerging economy. They don’t have the patience to follow the bureaucratic treadmill like in the old hierarchic system. All they need is the right commitment from their superiors and freedom to participate in the network of change agents. In return, they are transparent to their organisation and share the successes generously. They are passionate about the public cause and fully committed. Therefore they are also critical, and not blindly applauding about pop-up initiatives. They are experts with a wide view, system thinkers who can connect the dots. And they clearly see themselves as the connection between the public cause and the initiators, front runners in society. That is their operating space. The work of public pioneers creates synergy of government workers, ambitious entrepreneurs and citizens who are all working passionately towards a sustainable and connected economy.
But what exactly is their secret?
Inner drive is probably the key word. They show vision, the guts to act, and have great relational skills. But most importantly, they work with passion. They believe in their power to make change happen by starting on the level of personal relationships. Status and role are less important than influence: as long as the relationship is effective in creating movement. They don’t spend time on detailed planning processes, but build on their intuition and eye for momentum. And as true pioneers, they show curiosity, joy and playfulness. They let go the known and look for new interpretations, new connections where creativity is the core to new solutions.
Civil servants 2.0
The book Public pioneers is a landmark in the transition that the public sector is going through. The circular economy and the sharing or gig society need civil servants who participate in their quest to create the new. These civil servants 2.0 join the energy in society in unconventional ways. They are connectors who inspire people to move forward. That is why all the essayists in the book are proud of their profession and proud to work as a public sector pioneer.