Ten thoughts from ten years in the Public Sector; #10 Sandwiches

…it takes a week to make one!


Upon entering the public sector, the first bit of advice I received came from the Chief Executive.  He took me aside and explained that it would take me three years to find my feet and understand the politics and the confusing language.  His guidance was positive but his estimate of the time-scale was low. I’ve been trying for ten years now and I’m still not sure I fully understand.  The other bit of advice came from his deputy, she took me aside, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “We’ve had you private sector types in here before, and before you go doing anything you need to understand that in here, it takes a week to make a sandwich.”  I should have taken more notice.  She was right.

Day one; upon feeling hungry the Executive team makes a unilateral decision that a sandwich is the preferred means of satisfying hunger.  Refer to guidance and strategy documents for a list of appropriate sandwich options.  Align the sandwich choice decision making process to assist in developing the local economy and in creating sustainable vibrant and healthy communities.

Day two; establish short-list of those sandwiches that can be legitimately created and more importantly consumed within both rural and urban areas. Then create a working party of knowledgeable experts and hire consultants to facilitate the process of choosing from the sandwich short-list.

Day three; arrange the first meeting of the group and decide on a working title. The newly established Sandwich Working Action Group (SWAG) is set-up and project files and secure document storage methods are agreed.  This is to ensure that all sandwich related activity can be accounted for should some busy-body (tax paying member of the public) ask for evidence of how the money has been spent.  Sometimes the tax-paying busy bodies fall into the habit of referring to it as their money; what are they on about!

Day four; hold the first meeting of newly established SWAG group and agree terms of reference for the group.  Hunger is really kicking in amongst the Executive team now and there is pressure on the SWAG group to get things moving.  To move things along quickly the group decide to use the existing terms of reference from last week’s Pasty Intake Support Session to save time; after all why reinvent the wheel?

Day five; draw up a draft communications plan to ensure that internal and external stakeholders are aware of the potential economic and health related benefits to the surrounding area of the upcoming sandwich.  Then commission a design agency to create an artists’ impression of the sandwich.

Day six; distribute draft copy of promotional leaflet to SWAG group showing the artists’ impression of the sandwich and arrange a promotional launch event to celebrate the work of the Sandwich Working Action Group.

Day seven; gather local press and dignitaries for the launch of the SWAG group strategy.  Also display the artists’ impression of the sandwich using before and after illustrations to highlight the economic, social, environmental and health related benefits that the suggested creation of the soon to be created new “rural-urban” sandwich will generate.  Members of the Executive team are now very hungry so ignore questions from press about last weeks Pasty Intake Support Sessions group.  This group has has now been shelved and will soon re-emerge as the Kebab Related Action Plan strategy; another sure fire winner just waiting to happen…


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