It is the nature of organizations to grow over time. They add people, they add rules & regulations. Some of this addition is a Good Thing. But clearly, it can become a Bad Thing. And what’s worse, if an organization has grown horribly off-course, there is often no practical way to reform it radically. One need simply look at failing cities caught in a seemingly perpetual cycle of decay. The worse they get, the fewer Good People want to stay to Make It Better. And if they try, they have to fight an enormous existing machine and set of entrenched interests.
Is there a way to wipe the slate clean? In the private sector, companies that go too far off course are put out of business. But the same is not nearly as true for sections WITHIN a company, nor is it true for nonprofits, and it is especially untrue for governments.
I think many of us fantasize about wiping the slate clean, but doing so is a traumatic change that can have vast unintended consequences. And even if the change could be survived – what assurances do we have that the New Order is any better than the Old Regime?
Wiping the slate clean should not be done lightly. But I think there should be a way to do so. I ask your input on the thought experiment as to HOW to do so.
Possible Implementation (only a sketch mind you) for Municipal Government:
- At any time a confidence vote could be called for by the people (someone would have to get at least X% of registered voters to sign a petition calling for such a referendum).
- If at least Y% of the voters vote “no confidence” (or however it should be worded), then a Wipe The Slate Clean process begins…
- Z delegates must are selected via a follow-on election. These delegates are essentially a constitutional convention tasked with creating a new charter for the municipality. Their focus is on creating the sets of incentives, checks, and balances – not on passing judgment on any particular old laws, statutes, regulations, etc.
- The old and new charters are put before the voters and whichever wins the most votes becomes the official charter.
- If the new charter is selected, then all the new positions will be up for grabs at the next election. Old politicians can run for the new positions – but all positions must get filled.
- Once the new people are in office, they will have some period of time to review all old regulations, rules, traditions, etc. that fall under their purview. The newly elected leader has the right to THROW OUT anything they don’t like and keep whatever they do like. All of this must be done transparently to the public.
The above idea has the following merits in my mind:
- It allows you to throw out the old system, but only if people re REALLY PISSED OFF and think the new system is better.
- It focuses on changing incentives vs tasking the newly elected constitutional convention with the task of reviewing and debating ALL old regulations – that gets tasked to people specifically capable in THAT area.
There’s certainly tons wrong with my idea, but I look forward to the discussion :).