Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Steve Hilton Leaving matters

Every commentator and their dog is either writing a piece about Steve Hilton at the moment or has already written one. Who he was, what he’s done, what kind of a person he was; comment piece after comment piece is pouring out of laptops everywhere.

I don’t know Steve Hilton, I’ve never met him, I’m not sure I’ve ever even been in the same building,  but I do feel that his leaving is going to leave a hole. Why? Because by all accounts he has a vision, and he’s a man that is all about getting things done andy politics and government is all to short on those kind of people.

Don’t get me wrong, politics is full of very smart, very hard working people, but in the main they’re adrenaline junkies. They thrive on crisis and reacting, they’re about responding to what’s happening now. They get things done, but they’re not

By all accounts Hilton was the opposite, yes his day job was implementation, but he was thinking about the long term. Anyone that knows anything about transformational change, knows it’s not about reacting and responding ,it’s about getting things done that will create the change in time. Looking ahead to the future and importantly  thinking outside the box.

In politics you don't get to do that often, it’s all about the now, about responding to what’s happening to the detriment of long term planning. I came into politics with an aim to think long term, but I spend my life responding, worrying about what’s on the table now not later. I do get to think about the future from time to time (projects like Masters of Nothing and 2020 are the two that come to mind the most) but it’s not nearly often enough.

The other reason that I think Hilton will be sorely missed is his radicalism, it was his detoxification strategy (radical at the time) that drew new people to the Conservative party. People that would never have dreamed about voting Tory before. ConHome may blame this strategy for a lost election, but in my view it was what brought us to Government for the first time in 13 years. Without it we wouldn’t have stood a chance.

And it was many of his policies on things like transparency, open public services, and the post bureaucratic age that got me really inspired about politics. It was some of these ideas, thinking about them, and blogging about them, that ultimately saw me leave the world of business behind to go work for an MP.

Steve leaving Downing Street is a loss, someone always needs to be pushing the envelope, being reigned back, asking the awkward questions, and that was him. That role is important and someone has to fill it in any organisation that really wants to create lasting change.

I really do hope that that commentariat is wrong, and he’ll be back after his sabbatical. We need radical thinking from a doer, not just from big academic brains and  in the meantime we need to find someone to fill the Guru’s shoes (not that he wears them much).

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