WHEN the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, says he is running the government like a business, he is partially correct, in that the principles of good management are the same for a government as they are for a business. It must be noted, though, that there are two fundamental differences related to running a government versus running a business.
(1) In the case of the government, the people of Saint Lucia are like the board of directors and have the power to vote the Prime Minister in or vote him out; and
(2) The objectives of a government should be different to the objectives of a business. However, these objectives should at all times take into consideration stakeholders and finances.
Having said this, what are these underlying principles for any good management system — be it government or business? The international best practice identifies them as follows:
• Understanding and meeting the needs of stakeholders
• Good leadership that sets the right tone
• Engaging stakeholders and ensuring two-way effective communication
• Managing processes to ensure effectiveness and efficiency
• Continually improving by addressing complaints and learning from mistakes.
• Making decisions based on evidence (data, information, etc.)
• Managing relationships with stakeholders
Anyone who has successfully managed an organisation to get their desired results will agree that the above principles underpin good management — be it for government or a business.