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 Response Page - Blazar / Kolderie / Nelson  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bill Blazar, Ted Kolderie & Peter Nelson Interview of


Bill Blazar, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs And Business Development, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Ted Kolderie, founding partner of Education|Evolving and Senior Fellow at the Center for Policy Studies; Peter Nelson, policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment, and Dane Smith, president, Growth & Justice, discuss a recent policy statement on the redesign of government services. The speakers were part of the Discussion Group on Redesign, an informal bipartisan body in Minnesota including civic and business groups, foundations, and others, that released a statement Saturday, July 16, covering these major points:

·        Because the budget agreement does not address the state's long-term structural imbalance it is more imperative than ever that the Governor and Legislature arrive at a mutual commitment to redesign our public systems.

·        Higher taxes and/or spending cuts are not the complete (or preferred) answer to the state's long-term structural challenges. Finding new ways to deliver services and programs must be a part of the solution for Minnesota.

·        Redesign is a powerful way to bring the parties together, to reconcile service targets with spending targets - to sort out how to maintain or even improve service outcomes within spending constraints.

·        Minnesota can lead the country in demonstrating structural changes that respond to the "New Normal." As other states and the federal government continue to debate cutting and taxing, Minnesota should again become a leading state by showing that there is a third way.

·        Change the focus to what we want to be as a state, not just on how much to spend.

For the complete discussion summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Blazar, Kolderie, Nelson and Smith. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Opportunity now for redesign. (8.1 average response) While many persons kept saying that cutting services or raising taxes were the only realistic options, the Governor and Legislature instead balanced the biennial budget in 2011 via shifts and borrowing--however undesirable. The difficulty of agreeing on cutting services or raising taxes should have the effect of yielding more serious consideration of redesign in months and years to come.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. (7.0 average response) That a bipartisan group, the Discussion Group on Redesign, is calling for high priority for redesign helps demonstrate that the concept has broad support across the conservative-liberal spectrum.

3. Redesign for high productivity. (8.8 average response) Redesign is essential if Minnesota is to be a high-productivity state with a high capacity for institutional innovation. 

4. Incentives key to success. (8.2 average response) Redesign isn't likely to be successful if organizations are simply ordered to do what they have no incentive to do. It's better to structure systems so their organizations have reasons and opportunities to do good things on their own initiative--in their own interest and from their own resources.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Opportunity now for redesign.







2. Bipartisan support is evident.







3. Redesign for high productivity.







4. Incentives key to success.







Individual Responses:

Tom Spitznagle  (9)  (10)  (10)  (9)

Michael Martens  (5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

3. Redesign for high productivity. It is too late for Minnesota to be a leader in government redesign. Others states are far ahead of Minnesota. Minnesota should look to other states to see what they are doing—what is working and not working.

Jim Weaver  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. I cannot make a meaningful comment until "Redesign" is explicated with respect to services normally expected and provided by Government.  I have not followed this discussion as closely as perhaps I should have. Did I miss a Master Definition or Plan of Redesign?

Dennis L. Johnson  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

4. Incentives key to success. General comment on the discussion: The key point to be made from this was mentioned in the presenter's statement, as follows: "Change the focus to what we want to be as a state, not just on how much to spend". This point was little touched on during the Caucus, yet it is the essential point. Minnesota is divided on what kind of a state it wants to be. This discussion of "redesigning services" detracts from this essential point and just delays resolution of this essential question. Until the people of Minnesota come to a majority opinion over whether they want to be a public welfare state (California) or an Opportunity State (Texas), there will be little change from the current pattern of rising taxes and larger government and redesign will not happen.    Many other states have capped their budgets and taxes in the face of the recession. Minnesota should do the same, then live within its budget until elections determine what kind of a state Minnesota should be. With an uncapped budget, no redesign will occur. With a capped budget, it might, under the pressure of limited funds.

Leanne Kunze  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. [It is] irresponsible to continue the shifts and borrowing.  We need to educate voters on the true cost of government without propaganda.  And then ensure a sustainable revenue stream that supports it.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. What happened to the group that was appointed by the legislature on re-design that had stakeholders from several locations?  They haven't met for a while.  Looks like some meetings were cancelled.

3. Redesign for high productivity. If done right...not if influenced by anti-democracy groups.

Don Anderson  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. Unfortunately, when those elected represent the spectrum of pros and cons it is more and more difficult to consider redesign unless the public takes more of an interest in the views of those running for election.

Anonymous  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)

Malcolm W. McDonald  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. We need to look hard at how public service hours are spent and reduce hours spent through changes in how we do things and by eliminating unnecessary uses of time by eliminating where ever possible reports, required record keeping, and responses to minimal points raised.    When employees retire early, reassign duties to those remaining.  Don't always fill the position.  When unfilled positions pile up, take a hard look at eliminating unnecessary duties and responsibilities.  Simplify, automate, reduce time taken by the public just to create reports to provide work for public sector employees.  Let the public sector employees do the truly important.  Emphasize the bottom employees not the middle management level.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. People are tired of governmental delays in approvals. Officials need to obtain legal interpretations of previously cleared matters and uses of everyone's time on what all concerned know is truly unnecessary but required until eliminated.  Time for more technical corrections bills that result in saving time.

3. Redesign for high productivity. Make it innovation and creativity in any form not specifically prohibited by law.

4. Incentives key to success. That means eliminating procedures and requirements for approval that unnecessarily stand in the way.  Minnesota needs to stop being such a hard place, taking so much time for approval, requiring so much control by the public sector.

Peter Hennessey  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. Already considered and discussed in a previous meeting.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. Already considered and discussed in a previous meeting.

3. Redesign for high productivity. Already considered and discussed in a previous meeting.

4. Incentives key to success. Already considered and discussed in a previous meeting.

Will Shapira  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (0)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. How [to] satisfy those with widely-differing points of view obviously remains the big challenge.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. That has yet to proved. DGR is pushing its own agenda here, too.

3. Redesign for high productivity. Yes, but again the critical question is: how?

4. Incentives key to success. It smacks of more socialization of private debt. What/who are "their organizations"? What do they have to do with me? Who [is] empowered to [do] any of this? It somewhat resembles jamming a publicly-funded [program] down the taxpayers' throats (again.) Speaking if which, CC should immediately tackle the question of whether Gov. Dayton should call a special session of the Legislature just to consider a new Vikings stadium. This is a billion dollar proposition with some $300m of taxpayer money possibly involved. Do it now.

John Sievert  (2.5)  (2.5)  (10)  (10)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. You're kidding, right?  Neither side has the imagination or incentive to try something different.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. Noise level if that.

W.D.(Bill) Hamm  (2.5)  (0)  (5)  (5)

1. Opportunity now for redesign. While I tend to agree with the concept here, I do not see it as being inclusive enough yet. If this turns into another "Top Down" socialist push to further consolidate power into the hands of a few elitist with big heads and fancy degree[s], it will rightfully fail.

2. Bipartisan support is evident. I strongly disagree because I see no evidence of broad public support for or involvement in this process to date. So far this is just "pie in the sky" elitism being practiced by self-servers with special interests. Push it back down to the local level and make it inclusive and you might have a workable plan of attack. So long as it appears like it is something you are doing to us rather than with us it will rightfully fail.

3. Redesign for high productivity. As has been stated, it all depends on how the public supports and perceives this effort. So far I see it being led by elitist with a limited view of the world as we the majority see it. I see far too strong an involvement by those leaning toward further socialist experimentation, rather than commitment to the principles of local control and input.

4. Incentives key to success. This statement has one fatal error included in it. It assumes all public employees are more concerned for the greater good than for their self-interests [and] that all these good ideas that will change their workload and direction will be accepted in our present Union management conflict mode. Until these Labor/Minnesotaagement (sic) public employee resistance to change elements are included, these elitist efforts are going to fail.

Bill Kelly  (8)  (7)  (9)  (10)

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (8)  (10)  (9)

Wayne Jennings  (8)  (9)  (10)  (8)

I’m encouraged by this redesign activity and its reach across political positions. In my field of education I know educators who are raring to get on with it but feel constrained by an overburden of regulations and the heavy hand of governmental compliance. The charter school movement was to be an example of redesign but is now over-regulated. I think we have to move on two fronts: wholesale redesign which usually encounters stiff resistance from the status quo and providing for innovative pilots that accomplish societal goals but outside of the usual compliance regulations.

Ray Cox  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

For redesign to work all aspects of state government have to understand what redesign means, why it is being proposed, and a thorough acceptance of the plans. We absolutely cannot have agencies simply advocating for a continuation of what they have always been doing in the same manner that they have always done it.  And we absolutely cannot attempt to create a redesign of government agencies, taxing and revenue plans if the only ‘change’ is to increase taxes on a select small group. The taxpayers want everyone involved in the redesign solution.

Jan Hively  (10)  (8)  (10)  (8)

Public dollars should create incentives for people and organizations to be proactive in planning, collaborating with others and building on strengths to adapt to opportunities created by social and economic shifts and contribute to the common good.
Coming to you from Glasgow, Scotland, a city where the people understand very well both the difficulties of economic deterioration and the value of pulling together to make improvements.

Malcolm McLean  (10)  (8)  (9)  (9)

The Minnesota loss of our state government for 20 days plus the national experience with the debt ceiling debate both call strongly for seeking better (redesigned) ways of doing things.

Paul and Ruth Hauge  (8)  (8)  (10)  (7)

The proposal makes much sense but will take much convincing as it may be politically damaging in the eyes of some legislators—too slow, too radical, to loosely formed etc. We need to get beyond personal ambition and understand the general public's interest is the objective.

Alan Miller  (9)  (5)  (9)  (6)

Scott Halstead  (10)  (7)  (10)  (10)

Unfortunately, our legislators focus on redistricting, reelection and outside interests rather than Minnesota's needs.  They need to observe government in action, talk to those serving and being served, solicit policy changes that would result in better outcomes.  It is time to reduce the size of the legislature, enact term limits, increase legislators pay to full time, publish the expectations of people, business, education, local government, support services, recreation and environment, measure and publish accomplishments shortly after the session and prior to caucuses and elections.

Bert Press  (10)  (5)  (6)  (10)

Steve Alderson  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

How long has Ted been missing his head?

Fred Zimmerman  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

The subsequent discussion with John Gunyou and Jay Kedrowski is helpful in thinking about the July 22nd talk. I agree with the statements made by John Gunyou that true reform is unlikely to come from a mandate. Instead of major programs, we need thousand of well-managed incremental improvements helped in their adoption by employees, leaders, and particularly middle managers.
Attached below is a diagram on the processes involved in revitalizing companies with is taken from the book, The Turnaround Experience which I wrote in 1991 and is soon to be published again. Redesign involves a myriad of multi-faceted but highly linked processes. Perhaps the diagram will be helpful. A PDF copy of the book is attached, if anyone is both patient and curious.

 Bright Dornblaser  (8)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Lyall Schwarzkopf  (9)  (6)  (8)  (9)

Carolyn Ring  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)

With the tremendous advances in technology it is absolutely necessary to rethink how all functions of government operate. There is too much "this is always the way we have done it" attitude.  Goals and outcomes should be identified for every department, zero budgeting should be adopted and innovative ideas should be explored and encouraged. This is the 21st Century.  We should be operating in it using all resources available.

Larry Schluter  (9)  (7)  (8)  (9)

Tom Swain  (8)  (5)  (10)  (9)

Clarence Shallbetter  (8)  (5)  (7)  (9)

Shirley Heaton  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

While the matter obviously concerns Minnesota I still feel that if only one state can pull the Redesign concept off it'll have a great impact on other states which garner the gumption to follow through!


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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