Streamlining the #State – #Italy – comparing via #OECD


Well, a first disclosure: I might use once in a while the word “downsizing”, but I think that, in public administration, “lean” isn’t just a matter of doing the right thing at the right time, as it is often within the private sector.

The public administration, its processes, staff, and, yes, regulations are an expression of a political governance model, i.e how you want your society to work- and its aims.

Therefore, the most logical destination is a matter of choice- ditto for the path for that journey.

Paraphrasing an old advertisement, the journey is often more important than the destination, as the journey is a transformation that affects all those involved.

The picture that you see along with this post is the cover of a Slideshare presentation posted by the Italian Government, about the “streamlining” of the Italian State, uploaded in March 2014.

The end of the Italian Semester is nigh, so it is about time to have a look beyond the presentations.

Probably, beside paying outstanding suppliers of the Italian State (to the tune of 68bln EUR), as a sign that it can be done (and that future suppliers would probably be paid more or less in European timescales), the most interesting (from an external perspective) event beyond the announces has been the first batch of outcomes of the “Authority on Corruption”.

If you follow my posts, you know that, once in a while I both read and share in Italian material concerning Italy that is published abroad (e.g. a visual analysis of “Doing Business 2014”, but I do also the opposite, i.e. read Italian material that could be of concern to my foreign friends and contacts or just plain followers (online or offline, doesn’t matter), and share my review.

In both cases, I prefer to use English (ok, my personal blend of English with few other languages, if you want :D).

Choosing an individual’s path might be a personal choice, but the efficacy of that choice is a function of the ability of that individual (or anybody making the choice on her/his behalf) to ensure that all the factors, people, resources needed to turn a mere choice into reality “converge”.

If that is true for an individual, consider the number of elements involved in making a transition path for organizations with an aggregate of millions of employees.

Often, in both of my past lines of activities (project/organizational change management and number crunching to support decision making), I heard arguments based on “mechanistic” assumptions, i.e. stretching the old Leviathan simile a change too far.

In complex organizations, the overlapping of explicit and implicit motivation generates resistance to change, and while it might be annoying to adopt a “political” approach to change (coopting, negotiating), sometimes, if you want to generate a transition path that is resilient and able to withstand further resistance, it is the only path.

In my business activities, sometimes this “political” approach had to be replaced by or mixed with a more “assertive” one- as it should be, unless your aim is to negotiate for the negotiating sake, and just be acclaimed as a negotiator, and consider irrelevant what happens after you reach an agreement.

Streamlining the Italian State isn’t just a matter of numbers, it implies introducing a different social model, and this starts obviously with an understanding of the existing one, both on the macro-level (society at large, including the interactions with other societies), and the components level.

In this context, each component within the Italian society has obviously to be considered in its interactions with other components, and in its internal interactions, e.g. “what makes it tick”.

I am always, and will always be skeptical of two extremes: those who ignore data and focus just on ideas, and those who rely just on data and consider ideas a side-effect- as I wrote above, the Leviathan was a simile, not a model.

Over the last few years I had time to read and review plenty of books about Italy and Europe (and beyond), and to expand (not my choice) on my past observations on how Italy really works.

So, this week-end I added another bit to my readings, by getting through a couple of books about Trades Unions and their leaders- starting with a book on Mr. Landini, the leader of a Trade Union, as he is quite visible since at least late 2010 (the book has been published in 2011, but he is quite consistent in what he says, if compared with Italian political standards):
“Landini, Giancarlo Feliziani, Maurizio “Cambiare la fabbrica per cambiare il mondo.””

Then, I completed with an older book (2008) that is basically a collection of information on the role played by Trades Unions within the State.

As I posted on Twitter:
“Reviewed L’altra Casta by Stefano Livadiotti #bureaucracy #Italy #reforms #SYNSPEC”

So, you can have a look there- I also added links to updated material from OECD and an Italian research organization, as well as to other books that are relevant, i.e. covering other “vested interests”.

Today is Sunday, and therefore I would like to keep this post under 1,000 words, so, let’s make a twist- I close my post at 900 words, but then… I would like to share few more links (some are already contained within the review that I referred to above).

Let’s just say: streamlining the Italian State isn’t just a matter of cuts or reshuffling- you have also to alter the “how” and “why” things are done- and decide what to do with the people that will not be able or willing to transition to the new “how” and “why”.

As for the links…

Lopez “La casta dei giornali”
Veltri “I soldi dei partiti”
Rizzo, Stella “La casta”

From OECD (in Italian) Uno sguardo sulla pubblica amministrazione 2013 (in English:

Details about Italy:

Details about other OECD countries:

As for the full report… I will read it next week, along with few more old and not-so-old books about Europe… 🙂

Have a nice week!

PS I am preparing two more books about related subjects and social media, one in Italian, and one in English- but more about this by the end of this month!


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