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The negative mission statement

20 September 2016
by
Gloria Kupferman photo

Lifting dahlias

With the change of seasons and the government probably changing colour, it will soon be the season for government departments to be lifted, divided, re-planted in new beds and (in some cases) composted.

If we also have to re-do our departmental mission statement, I would like to put in a plug for the usefulness of the Negative. Negative goals may make the workers a bit depressed, perhaps a bit unmotivated, but they are I think much easier to achieve than the upbeat, unlimited, positive goals that usually spring, defying reality, from the external communications department.

Here is my list of important negative goals that I would like to see feed into any revision of a department’s mission statement.

  1. Don’t do anything that could kill or harm a stakeholder.
  2. Don’t do anything that will make the public so cross they organise against you and go on ‘Stateline’.
  3. Don’t do anything that you can’t plausibly explain to ICAC.
  4. Don’t hide the fact that any individual’s interaction with a department is going to cost one of the parties some money, and it won’t be the government.
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