Voices from Accenture Public Service

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Have you read Pivot to the Future: Discovering Value and Creating Growth in a Disrupted World? Written by three Accenture leaders – Omar Abbosh, Paul Nunes and Larry Downes – the book shares the story of the firm’s strategy to reinvent itself. No matter where you work, I think you’ll find the story interesting, enjoyable and worth a read.

But Pivot to the Future also offers even more value: principles and concepts that challenge the reader to think in new ways. As I read the book, I considered how public sector organizations might employ these new ideas. That’s probably no surprise given my background working in this sector and my current role as Accenture’s North America Industry Lead for state and local government finance and administration.

As some of you might know from my prior blogs and other communications, I’m passionate on the issue of government accomplishing fiscal balance. In other words, I believe that public sector must find ways to fund liabilities that are coming due – for example, covering currently underfunded pension obligations, as well as keeping roads and bridges in good repair. Failing to fund these obligations now means future taxpayers – including my kids and grandkids – will bear the burden.

I call this “generational debt,” and I believe it is the biggest issue of our time. I also believe this book offers breakthrough strategies that can help us solve the challenge of generational debt.

Omar, Paul and Larry write about the scope of any enterprise in segments called the “old,” the “now” and the “new.” They argue that a successful enterprise must pivot from the “old” to the “new” to release trapped value – in other words, find ways to redeploy funds in more innovative and effective ways – and to stay relevant and successful in our disruptive times.

By their very nature, government programs and budgets are typically wedded to the “old.” Legacy programs get continuous funding due to the public sector’s incremental budgeting process. As a result, resources for the “now” and the “new” can be very hard to come by. This does not seem like a winning strategy. And it begs the question: How can state and local governments start putting the principles and concepts of Pivot to the Future to work?

Accenture currently has research in the field to explore that question with government personnel and citizens alike, and we’ll be sharing our findings and analysis soon. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts and wisdom on how government can pivot to the future – and embrace the “new” for the benefit of citizens today and in the future.

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