Before doing more blogs on my entrepreneurial experiences of Italy I could not let a recent entrepreneurial experience in Britain pass without comment.
My previous blogs have sometimes referred to the lack of entrepreneurial skill within government and I have tried to explain some of the reasons why this is.
The example that I refer to involves local government in Britain where a municipality closed a road because it was in need of repair following a landslip in February. This resulted in people having to drive a 14-mile detour along narrow lanes thereby impacting everything from getting to and from work to going to doctor and dentist appointments.
The local municipality has estimated 10 months at least to open the road and so an entrepreneur decided to do something about it.
He hired a piece of land from a local farmer and spent his own money building a 350-yard piece of road that cut out the closed portion. He built it to the correct standards and then implemented a £2 toll on the road. Locals are delighted and he has already had 1500 use the facility. His business plan estimates that he needs about 6000 uses a month to break even.
Whilst those of us that laud the entrepreneurial spirit of this man would be impressed, of course the local municipality immediately went on the defensive. They started talking about planning permission, safety, insurance etc. At least they did until the idea started to get so much positive press.
Now of course, the municipality is even preparing signs and appears to have speeded up on the repair of the original route.
Of course, this could have been a council solution to the problem if the municipality employed anyone with an ounce of entrepreneurial thinking.
Municipalities and governments will continue to be a drain rather than a benefit until there is a major change in both recruitment and thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if fitting the mold were to disqualify you from the civil service and wouldn’t that then lead to less ‘more of the same’ government and more innovation?
For this to happen the biggest change would need to be the removal of all of these career politicians. How can these people that follow a path from school to university, to researcher or intern, to party activist, to municipal official, to member of government possible understand the world they are trying to govern?
We desperately need innovative solutions in this complex and troubled world. We need less laws and more new ideas. We need people that can find another way around problems rather than trying to fix things the same old way. We need people like the man that build the bypass toll road!