Of my work as a whole, I probably do less charity and public sector training than anything else. Broadly speaking this is because I have historically been classed as a speaker on the subject of risk taking and most institutions in this space feel that risk is something that they cannot afford to take and that public sector training should not focus on such issues.
This is, of course, a misunderstanding about the subject of risk which I am always keen to dispel in the early stages of my work with clients – from any sector. The first rule of risk-taking is that it should always feel safe to the person who is taking it, otherwise it is probably an unacceptable risk. And the second rule is that, in the long run, the biggest risk that we can take is not to take any risk at all.
This confusion between the short and long term is compounded by the fact that public sector bodies see risk as something taken by very aggressive commercial companies in order to maximise profits, but of course, the returns on the risks that we take can be much less tangible than money. Often – even in the private sector – returns are reputational, emotional and temporal so the subject is just as relevant for public sector training as private. The key to public sector training, then, is making the subject of return on investment relevant to everything they do. Of course stakeholders and taxpayers are just as interested in returns as anyone else but rather than profit, they seek quality of service and efficiency gains. The principles are universal.
Public sector training can – and should – be both hard headed and fun, just like any other kind of training. It should address the way that people make decisions and the ways in which they can do it better. Indeed, I would say that the 5 sessions I have done with the environment agency over the years are among the most impactful of any of my work and I would relish the chance to speak to you now about your needs.