Who do not for profit managers have most in common with? Is it colleagues in the private sector, or colleagues in the public sector? Most people will instinctively go for the latter. Citing shared values and ethos, they will say that people in charities for example have most in common with people in the public sector, but is it true?
If I take an example of a local authority, a charity and a large company let us look at the way they actually behave. Local authorities are creatures of statute. They are compelled to deliver a wide range of services. Even if the actual delivery is outsourced the responsibility, cost and risk remains with the council. They cannot stop delivering elderly care or children’s services, even if costs are exploding and income is declining. Councils are also all about place. A council cannot relocate to another part of the country. They cannot pick and choose the customers and citizens they serve.
Now take an example of a company and a charity such as Age UK for example. Neither of these is compelled to do anything. They can pick and choose what services to provide. They do not have to be geographically specific, they can move at will around the country and tailor solutions to local needs. If money is running low, they can stop doing things. All of this flexibility is a long way from most local authority services.
Now life is not that simple, there are many similarities between public service management and not for profit management, but there are many differences too. As someone who has had the good fortune to be a Private Sector Chief Executive, a Council Chief and has been a not for profit CEO I have seen many of the differences first hand. What really strikes me is that each has something to give the other. Too often management careers are siloed in one sector or another and little cross sector learning takes place. Here at APS we are passionate about breaking some of these siloes down. We think we have some good ideas as to how this could be done, but let me know what ideas you may have.