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 Response Page - Eggers / Dahl  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Bill Eggers / Steve Dahl Interview of
06-26-2014.
 

Are groups outside government better able to solve our toughest societal problems?

OVERVIEW

According to Deloitte Research's William (Bill) Eggers, some of the more challenging problems around the world are being solved in a different way than in the past. More and more, big societal problem solving, he says, is taking place outside of government by businesses, foundations and nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs. He points out that there is a large movement of social entrepreneurs who are new problem-solving innovators and investors, trying to create businesses on the backs of either market failure or government failure.

Eggers explores this major shift in his book The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises are Teaming up to Solve Society's Biggest Problems. He cites examples of businesses trying to solve societal problems, while also expanding or increasing their profits, such as Unilever's efforts to help fight diarrhea in India, while also expanding its business into small villages there.

He contends that with significant problem solving being done by nontraditional entities, government is no longer always in the center of these efforts. However, he believes, there is a role for government in creating the environment for these problem solvers to flourish by being a convener and facilitator. He states that a number of larger cities and every federal agency are using this approach, but change has been slower at the state level.

Eggers and Deloitte's Steve Dahl believe that, given Minnesota's long history of very strong civic, nonprofit and business engagement, the state is poised to be a world leader in advancing this new model of innovation and nontraditional problem solving.

For the complete interview summary see: Eggers/Dahl interview

Response Summary: 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.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (8.2 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (8.7 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. Government alone insufficient. (9.1 average response) Solving the world's most urgent societal problems, such as making clean water available to all people, will more likely occur if philanthropy, business, and social enterprises are intimately involved, rather than just government.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. (7.8 average response) Government's role should move from being a primary problem-solver to serving as a convener and facilitator for problem-solving innovators in other sectors.

5. Aversion to risk hampers government role. (8.1 average response) The freedom to experiment with new approaches, and even to accept failure, is much easier when government, with its aversion to political risk, isn't involved or plays a more modest role.

6. MBA's want social impact commitment. (6.8 average response) Businesses will need to demonstrate commitment to social impact if they are to attract many new MBA graduates.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.

0%

7%

13%

33%

47%

15

2. Further study warranted.

0%

0%

7%

40%

53%

15

3. Government alone insufficient.

0%

0%

7%

33%

60%

15

4. Government should convene, facilitate.

0%

0%

20%

53%

27%

15

5. Aversion to risk hampers government role.

0%

0%

20%

47%

33%

15

6. MBA's want social impact commitment.

0%

0%

40%

47%

13%

15

Individual Responses:

David Dillon (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Dave Broden (5) (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. The interview topic was valuable but due to various reasons not well discussed.

2. Further study warranted. The message and linkage regarding partnerships is strong and needed. Additional speaker who can articulate the message and link to Minnesota in particular would be very beneficial.

3. Government alone insufficient. Most issues like water will move more rapidly if the resources of the private sector are the leaders and are focused on some public good objective.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. Solving problems as a partnership engages greater innovation and incentives to meet the objective and also removes many of the challenges that occur with public responsibility.

5. Aversion to risk hampers government role. The US has a strong and positive history of risk taking to address tough problems. In recent years the US has become by some management schemes much more risk adverse. We must move back to risk taking, call it "risk aware" and move ahead with solutions which challenge the status quo.

6. MBA's want social impact commitment. The question implies that business does not have social impact commitment. Perhaps many businesses do not, but on the other hand, many do and are aggressively working to address issues. The message needs to be that the attention to social impact is the responsibility of all companies for the common good.

 

Don Anderson (5) (5) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

3. Government alone insufficient. To solve urgent societal problems it is essential that all groups work together and not as isolated entities.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. The big question is: is it possible for government to be convener and facilitator when government itself is as fractured as it is?

Fred Senn (10) (10) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5)

1. Topic is of value. This is exciting. By the way, our business community's Minnesota Early Learning Foundation provides a wonderful work in progress on early education reform in Minnesota. MELF invested $20 million in private funds to research and test a solution to low school readiness. Now they are helping state agencies (Human Services and Department of Education) implement the Parent Aware Rating system for child care and early education providers. It's working. Stay tuned.

3. Government alone insufficient. "Insufficient" is an understatement. Partisan gridlock is giving democracy a bad name around the world - and, as you point out - with newly minted MBA's. I think you are on to something; private enterprise and social engineers can do the R&D. They can accept the risk that political leaders refuse to take.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. Anybody can convene. In the case of MELF, the business community convened the effort. The State was willing to contribute in exchange for a seat at the table. The business community said, "No thanks." If you want agility and speed, be careful who you invite.

 

Charles A. Slocum (10) (10) (10) (5) (10) (5)

2. Further study warranted. Suggest more specific examples of how the private sector has succeeded in solving the most vexing of problems important to our state and nation.

3. Government alone insufficient. I think we are already showing the way on non-government leadership on clean water globally, but environmental and weather conditions are in many cases making the challenges even greater.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. This notion that government exclusively be a convener or facilitator has to be rolled out carefully as some challenges can best be addressed by our government.

5. Aversion to risk hampers government role. Part of the solution to this is in the kind of personnel selection, training and goals expectations given to publicly employed leaders.

6. MBA's want social impact commitment. The jury is still out on this. MBA's are in less demand than a decade ago as society seeks solutions and leadership from technically trained workers.

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (5) (5) (5) (10)

6. MBA's want social impact commitment. There are a lot of concerns that need to be resolved, prior to business being the leader in solving major social issues. Would the government be supporting a system where a sole provider had received government financial support and has the right to sell their services at higher prices than through traditional government process? Government has for years provided financial support in the area of medical care. A lot of that effort has resulted in very high cost and little results. Government need to better define it's responsibilities and [see that] the talent to perform those functions [is] regularly provided and have efficient, fair, effective methods of doing infrequent government responsibilities. An example is package delivery by UPS, Fedex and others. They often pick up packages, sort and carry to a Post Office that carries it to high cost remote locations. Certain politicians are frequently imposing regulations to downsize the postal service and give the business to private enterprise, even though private enterprise only wants the profitable business.

Vici Oshiro (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (5)

1. Topic is of value. Most exciting thing I've seen from Civic Caucus.

4. Government should convene, facilitate. Government also needs to help keep the rascals out. We need a better definition of what a corporation is and its role in economy and society. Before you go whole hog with the private sector solutions, remember the Nestle boycott.

5. Aversion to risk hampers government role. [The] public has [a] taste for silver bullets. Legislators need to find ways to authorize pilot projects and wait until proven before jumping on the bandwagon. Many examples from education, but I can't remember the code words at the moment.

6. MBA's want social impact commitment. I'm two generations away from recent graduates. I hope many of them are interested in social impact and manage to maintain that as they progress in their careers.

Amy Wilde (4) (9) (7) (7) (5) (6)

Nonprofits (i.e. Rotary International, church missions groups, etc.) probably contribute as much or more, especially worldwide in countries that have notoriously corrupt governments. Some government public-private contracting (e.g. defense, portions of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part D, Minnesota's contracting for Medical Assistance management) has resulted in select firms getting very rich at taxpayer expense through things like non-negotiated contracts for products and services. There are, quite frankly, some things private enterprise simply won't do if there is no financial incentive (like clean water for manufacturing or access to broadband in areas where a cheap workforce exists or a "captive" market for cheap clothing and groceries in a big box store where little other viable retail exists) to do them. Only government subsidies would provide electricity in rural areas, for example, and similar subsidies are essential to bridge the digital divide. Ditto for "loan forgiveness" and medical care subsidies in "medically underserved" areas. Yet government is notorious for not signing contracts with the private sector that provide good value for the taxpayer. Perhaps what is really needed is to get "big money" out of government by banning or cutting huge campaign and "issue" contributions and doing limited public financing of bonafide campaigns. Congress needs to be free from the influence of corporate cash so that it can, as it did in WW II, quickly innovate solutions to complex problems without so much fear of failure. Congress should, for example, be working together to "fix" the inevitable bureaucratic glitches of something as large as the Affordable Care Act (as it did with Medicare during the mid-to-late 1960s) rather than to continue to fight over whether or not to "repeal" it. (For example, drug companies should be forced to do bonafide negotiations for provision of essential drugs and medical devices to government-subsidized programs like Medicare & Medicaid, as it already does with the Veterans Administration health programs. Also, federal contracting rules need to be simplified so that small, start-up companies and not just giant corporations apply for them. The current setup is a huge taxpayer boondoggle.)

Paul Hauge (9) (8) (9) (7) (5) (7)

Wayne Jennings (8) (8) (8) (8) (9) (7)

Exciting concepts that need more examples to garner understanding and support. Otherwise, they become only 20,000 feet high flyers. It would be helpful to describe specific processes for local and state problems. Clean water in India is great but the example lacks specifics that illuminate how to apply it locally.

Tom Spitznagle (7) (6) (10) (8) (8) (5)

Fred Zimmerman (10) (10) (10) (7) (8) (5)

I have great respect for Deloitte and I am impressed by the depth of thinking applied to the scenario of public private co-operation.  The idea is fine. The problem is that cooperation means meetings and time delays.  Too often, government seeks cooperation only when they need money or have come up short in accomplishing what they were charged to do and are looking for someone to share criticism. In many cases, government should do what they are supposed to do and should get on with fulfilling these responsibilities in effective and cost appreciative ways. The US Department of Justice provides an example. Justice is not an area where government/private cooperation is needed. Yet the US Department of Justice has been noticeably tranquil and neglectful in bringing financiers, tax-evaders, and other miscreants to justice.

Chuck Lutz (7) (7) (9) (8) (7) (9)

Terry Stone (8) (8) (9) (9) (9) (5)

Efforts in social entrepreneurship so far seem to have involved an affinity group of just the right company, just the right investors, just the right problem and just the right political environment. Whether the pool of these combinations of players is deep enough to sustainably do the world’s heavy lifting on its social ills seems an open question. 

Mina Harrigan (10) (10) (10) (8) (10) (5)

    

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

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (coordinator), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie, Dan Loritz (chair),
Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman


©
The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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