Initial lessons for Scottish PB (updated)

This is an update of a post from my first week in São Paulo, with input from my much better half. Mistakes of course are my fault, not hers.

  • If we don’t get PB right first time, people will lose confidence in it.
    • In this lesson, right can be replaced with good enough, because nothing is perfect, and Scotland is just learning to do PB.
    • This lesson means we need effective processes so that people know they have made the choices.
    • It also means that what is promised must be delivered near enough on time and near enough on budget.
      • This should happen in any context, no matter how much (or how little) money is involved.
      • We can argue about what near enough means at appropriate points.
  • Projects must be monitored as they proceed.
    • Also, due diligence/monitoring must happen at the end of project periods.
    • And that data must be analysed to see what is effective.
    • There should also be the possibility of discontinuing projects if it turns out that they are unlikely to be delivered, or if the benefits can be delivered in better ways, or if an urgent need arises for the money allocated to the project.
      • But this must be done transparently, and must not even appear to be party-political.
  • Don’t rely on revenue forecasts, because what is forecast may not materialise!
  • Annual cycles, i.e. projects that must be started and completed in a year, may be sub-optimal.
  • LeithChooses’ 2018 turnout (1000/20,000 = 5%) is good.
  • The current Scottish model of PB should have a deliberation stage before projects are formulated.
    • At the moment, PB process-runners (e.g.LeithChooses steering group) set themes, then invite projects.
    • The Brazilian model involves participatory deliberation on what the themes should be.
  • There should be some data gathered on who participates.
    • This is to show whether PB schemes are truly participatory, and whether they attract votes from people who need the services PB would offer.
  • Don’t build up an unhelpful bureaucracy around PB.
    • This may lead to clashes between parts of the bureaucracy that support different aims and objectives.
    • While spending money to create and perfect process is valid, wasting it on un-neccessary process is invalid, and puts people off the work.
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