The HIPSS Manifesto for Public Sector Services

This manifesto is based on the premise that public sector services belong to us all, those they serve and those who provide them, they exist for the common good and we collectively own them. Therefore, we should expect them to make every effort to understand the needs of their users, making them the focus of activity, acting with humanity and courage in their best interests, displaying integrity, openness, transparency, and compassion in all their dealings, behaving in ways that reflect and reinforce our collective humanity. To enable this to happen we want...  

To support the development of humane cultures in which humanity and integrity are expected behaviors in all public sector services. This will reduce harm, save lives and create more compassionate trusting workplaces. We want to minimize the amount of valueless regulatory and legal activity to make services more effective by ensuring scarce funds are used where they are needed most. This will benefit service-users, people working in them, and the public purse.

To make the scale of the problem and its impact much more visible. Poor cultures in the NHS are causing untold harm and costing thousands of avoidable deaths each year, two Hillsborough tragedies each week. The emotional cost in terms of lives lost, harm caused, families and futures shattered, is immeasurable. The financial cost is staggering. Our NHS paid out £2.4 Billion in 2018 and faces future liabilities of approx. £80 Billion (that's billions with a B).

To develop robust accessible knowledge that increases our understanding of this issue. Improvement begins with understanding, we must be open to the gaps in our knowledge about what drives poor behavior in public sector services. We will collaborate to develop insights and highlight the impact, in all its forms, personal and financial, of poorly focused cultures, unintended consequences, ethical fading, and wilful blindness.      

To develop a collective understanding that when bad things happen in our public services, it is seldom due to the deliberate acts of people with bad intent. Many working in public sector services are often unaware of the impact their action, or inaction may have, or that there is even an ethical dimension to a decision or situation they are involved in. Decent people can unwittingly and inadvertently end up doing incredibly shitty things.

To be a place that recognizes, celebrates, and champions the courage of those who challenge the status quo in all our interests, those who speak truth to power, who call it out when they see something wrong, and who stand up when they are told to sit in silence. To stand with and acknowledge the fear of those who feel isolated and alone, to reinvigorate the internal compasses of those who need support, to rekindle and refresh their sense of purpose.   

To establish forgiveness as an essential part of our relationship with public sector services. If our expectations of them are to increase and they are willing to be held accountable and transparent in their dealings with us, then we must allow room for mistakes, well-intentioned errors, and lapses of judgment. We are all only human. We share 99% of our DNA with chimps, we are 72.8% water, we have more neurons in our brain than stars in the Milky Way; we all f**k-up and drop our bananas at some point, it's what we do next that defines us as human...

Things change and so this manifesto will remain a work in progress. You are always welcome to comment on and contribute your suggestions for inclusion...