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on 30 July 2013
I've been groping for the phrase that sums up how I feel about this book and I finally found it: disarmingly straightforward.

When a friend shoved it my way (he knows the author) I was sceptical because I was expecting something decidedly academic and - to be frank - a bit worthy. Instead it just got on with it. Nothing is dragged out, no Big Name is quoted ad infinitum, just anecdotes, pithy quotes and forthright views and advice.

I read it in one sitting and was surprised at how breezy the tone was - and how infectious his passion for the work of civil servants was.

Would I recommend it? If you're a manager of any sort I would definitely take the time to read this. If you're in the public sector you'd be mad not to run out and get hold of a copy immediately. Someone, somewhere is one day going to be talking about their glorious career in the public sector and they will point to this book as one of the leg ups they enjoyed along the way.
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on 30 July 2013
There aren't many management books about the public sector. This is a good one. It covers most of what makes the public sector unique - the need for democratic accountability, the fact that decisions are often made in the public eye, and the difficulty of meeting multiple goals (rather than a single bottom-line target which is usually the over-riding objective in the private sector). The style of the book is accessible and low on jargon. There are chapters on managing risk and people - and also on how to manage politicians (respect them, and make use of them).

But the best thing about this book is the range and variety of the real experiences of very senior public sector leaders that Stevenson has interviewed - New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, former London mayor Ken Livingstone, former UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke, and people who have served at the very pinnacle of UK public services: Michael Bichard, Gus O'Donnell, Jonathan Powell, Richard Wilson, Michael Barber, Robin Wales, Andrew Turnbull and others. Some of their comments are great reminders of how important it is that the public sector must work well, and how rewarding work in the public sector can be. A prison governor is quoted, describing how an 82-year-old prisoner was about to be released with nowhere to go, and how the prison staff made sure he had somewhere safe to stay, exhibiting the dedication that is Britain's public sector at its best: 'This is my job, and I will not let this person down'.

This is a book that every public sector organisation should make available to its people - it will help them to do their jobs better, and to believe in the importance of what they do too.
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on 11 April 2014
Having spent 20 years in UK public sector (last 10 as a senior manager) and now in the private sector this is a one of those must read books. Private sector reps who work with the public sector must read this book as a basic training tool. Lazy mentality re " I don't understand the public sector" is no excuse. This book will help you understand the challenges the people making decisions about your deal face.

For public sector sector colleagues who are in mgt, or who aspire to be in mgt, again a must read. From experience public sector is lousy at creating and rewarding managers. One minute you're an officer and the next you're a manager. This book will help you learn and develop. Inevitable you will learn most from your mistakes but heck of a lot in here.

What the author has captured is the fact that public sector mgt is about bringing together a group of disparate resources and working with them to deliver a critical service. Those resources will vary enormously re skills and any objective will be heavily buffeted by political/senior management priorities. Takes a heck of lot to be a good public sector manager and involves far more skills than private sector. Unless you've done the job you won't really appreciate how hard it is but as a tax payer you can at least make the effort to read this book and try to understand.
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on 17 January 2014
This is a really helpful book for anybody involved in the public sector and manages to distill hugely complex issues and characteristics of the public sector into useful and practical advice which can be applied to real jobs.

It debunks the usual private sector rants about the public sector and highlights why you cannot simply transfer management techniques across from one to the other and how the public sector manager can meet the unique challenges they face (even without the easy yardstick of a P&L) and excell in what they do.

I recommend anybody who works in the public sector (or deals with the public sector) to read it.
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on 2 November 2013
It must be the first time a successful entrepreneur has looked from an informed position at management in government.The book is at the same time an invaluable corrective to simplistic views about the introduction of private sector techniques ( the author implies that the private sector has as much if not more to learn from the public sector) as well as being a primer on good management for anyone working in the public sector
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on 2 August 2013
The Author is clearly passionate about this field and has written an easily readable 'must have' book for the Public Sector.

There's a great range of interviewees, including Jonathan Powell and Michael Bloomberg, some great quotes, views and advice.

If this is your area, go and buy it.
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on 26 August 2013
Anyone managing anything in the public sector should, I would almost say must, read this book. It is helpful, thought-provoking, practical and (not something you'd say about most management books) great fun to read. Consistently pithy & to the point.

But is much much more than that. In exploring some of the advantages & additional challenges that public sector mangers face versus their private sector counterparts, Stevenson opens up (as I have never seen really done before) some very important issues about what can and what cannot be better managed in the public sector than the private sector. It would be no exaggeration to say that anyone who is interested in the barriers of what the state should do and what the state should not do, should read this book. It gives an entirely new perspective on one of the great socio-economic questions of all time - what should the government tax people to manage on their behalf and when should it get out of the way. Head in the sand socialists or dyed in the wool Thatcherites might find it uncomfortable reading.

Truly excellent and highly recommended. Only criticism. It is a more important book than the slightly "think-tanky" cover from KoganPage reveals.
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on 6 June 2015
Best I can say is "not bad". A number of the same old approaches are written up by the old hands but there are at least a few new ideas in there. Written in slightly to much of an academic format for it to be light reading - but it doe sallow you to dip in and dip out I suppose. Basically though more of the same that appears in management books elsewhere...
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