Lecture Series

Lifelong Learning Lectures are presentations on topics of general interest, such as public policy, philosophy, religion, history, science, culture, the arts, and literature. No registration is required and all are welcome to attend. There is no fee but donations are gratefully accepted. Suggested donation: $5.

(In the event of inclement weather, call the Mahone Bay Centre 902 624 0890 after 11:00am on the day of the talk to find out about postponement or cancellation.)

November 29, Wednesday, 2:00pm

Lack of effectiveness and accountability in the public sector

Alan Parry

Two major obstacles to performance of organizations in the public sector may be summed up as Goal and Role Displacement. Goal displacement stems from confusion between results and the process or means of getting them. Einstein, in describing it as our main problem said, “Perfection of means and confusion of aims
seems to characterize our age.” Churchill, putting a different slant on it said, “However beautiful the strategies, you should occasionally look at the results.”

When responsibility is accompanied by enabling authority, people can be held accountable. When responsibility and authority reside in different parts of the organization, individual accountability is a non-starter. Alan will illustrate the problems with examples and propose avenues for solutions.

After graduating with a Masters in Civic Design, Alan moved to Manitoba to work as chief planner for the Provincial Planning Services and later as Director of Planning for the Eastern Region of Underwood McLellan.

After moving to Edmonton he worked in the field of Organization Development with Edmonton Public Schools. There he developed and installed a system of school based management, focusing on devolution of authority from the centre to the schools. This was later adopted in a variety of forms, notably in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

In 1981, he incorporated Abingdon, a consulting company, which provided services in Corporate and Strategic Planning to the provincial and territorial governments, some Federal Departments and NGO’s, Department of Health of Russia, LAUSD (Los Angeles) and International Council of Museums (Rome). Alan and his wife Susan retired to the South Shore in 2001 and live in Lunenburg.