Try as it might, the public sector struggles to shrug off that kind of stuffiness, that misplaced and outmoded sense of entitlement and dogma that pervades the administration of the local and national body politic.

Even those sections of the public sector, the NGOs and the semi states as they call them in Ireland, which are more enterprise- and business-oriented than the others, stand out for the wrong reasons. Despite their remit to be business- and entrepreneur-focused, they’re still tied to their bureaucracy and exude a sort of semi state stuffiness that masquerades as public accountability but which is really a difficulty with change.

Take emails for instance. Trivial and everyday though they are, emails have replaced much of our daily communications and interactions and so they’re critically important for establishing rapport and sending the right messages – literally or figuratively – and picking up on the right cues.

The vast majority of emails come into your inbox from ‘first name’ or first name second name’, because that’s who they are and that’s the way the IT admin or the people themselves have set them up. Yet I frequently get emails from public sector bodies and people in the format ‘Second name comma first name.’

What kind of a name is Smith, John? Its nobody’s name. I doubt John Smith has ever been referred to as Smith, John, except in his public sector work email.

That’s the way it was set up, and that’s the way it comes across. Formal, bureaucratic, out of date, stuffy. It sends out the wrong signals.

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