Unintended consequences in the world of gun registries and teacher evaluations

The law of unintended consequences is an adage or idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system always creates unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes. Akin to Murphy’s Law, it is commonly used as a wry or humorous warning against the hubristic belief that humans can fully control the world around them. Many scientific and sociological fields of study embrace this concept,

Unintended consequences can be roughly grouped into three types:

  • a positive, unexpected benefit (usually referred to as serendipity or a windfall)
  • a negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis)
  • a perverse effect that is contrary to what was originally intended (e.g., when an intended solution of a problem actually makes the problem worse). This situation can arise when a policy has a perverse incentive that causes actions contrary to those which were desired. Source

One example of unintended consequence  is the debate regarding the gun registry in Canada. Whether the registry lives or dies will have no impact whatsoever on the vast majority of Canadians, and scarcely more on the minority that pay it close attention. Take the cost, first. It is certainly true that the costs of setting up the registry were substantial, and outrageous. If the issue were whether it was worth spending $2 billion just to draw up a list, not of handguns or newly purchased rifles, but of the rifles people already owned, I doubt there’d be many takers.

But the registry has been set up. The $2 billion is a sunk cost: it’s gone, and nothing we can do will get it back. The relevant factor in any decision we make now is not what we paid in the past but what we’ll have to pay from here on, that is, the annual cost of maintaining the registry, which the RCMP informs us is less than $4 million a year. Not terribly costly and not terribly intrusive either: as its defenders point out, we are obliged to register many other of our possessions, most of them far less capable of havoc than a gun. Source

And guess what ! Acquiring a firearm would still mean sending a photograph verified by a friend, along with two character references from someone who’s known you for three years or more. Background checks? Still required. Phone numbers so your spouses can be notified that you’re getting a gun license?  All of that detailed personal information would live on in the existing electronic database, along with registration data for restricted weapons like handguns, where it will be at the fingertips of police attending complaints or investigating crimes. That may come as a surprise to the farmer who thought the government was about to leave him alone with his rusty 22.  The gun registry is about to become a registry of gun owners.

All of which invites a question: if getting rid of the registry would leave the most invasive components of the gun-control system in place—and if it leaves most safeguards for public security in place too—exactly what is this fight about? Beats me. Source

Getting back to unintended consequences, the debate over long gun registration has brought out an interesting new political dynamic in Canada, one that should concern firearms owners. An Angus Reid poll has revealed a large increase in the percentage of Canadians who think that owning firearms of any kind should be illegal. Not just handguns, mind you, a ban on all firearms.According to the poll, 49 per cent of Canadians now support a complete ban on handguns, up from 46 per cent last November.

What is more surprising is that, in a different question on the poll, the number who would make all firearms illegal is now up to 45 per cent, versus only 40 per cent who would keep ownership legal and 15 per cent unsure. Making it illegal to own long guns, an extreme position, appears to be the more popular view. Despite efforts in the political debate to make a distinction between long guns and other types of guns, this distinction is no longer present in the mind of Canadians who participated in their surveys. The old opinion that handguns should be prohibited but long guns are OK no longer exists.

From a political point of view, it means that a complete ban on firearms could have majority support. No political party is taking that position yet, but the polarization of the debate makes it a politically tempting target.

So you may ask why has the middle ground vanished, the people who don’t own a firearm but don’t mind that others do?  It could be that the registry, whatever its true effectiveness,  to gives them confidence that guns were “under control”, but when they are told that it is ineffective they conclude that stronger measures are needed. Telling urban Canadians that gun owners won’t register their weapons, that police are no safer and can’t trace guns, and that keeping track of guns is a lost cause might just convince them that allowing ownership with some restrictions is not working out.

It could be that the success of the registry was the only thing that kept support for a complete ban at bay. Source

So the irony is getting rid of the registry may end up with strong public opinion supporting the ban in guns. Clearly an unintended consequence.

Another unintended consequence is professor evaluations at universities. In the United States, a newsmagazine reports that college students are attending so few classes that one institution is now tracking their attendance electronically.  An accompanying image shows students floating in a campus pool watching television.

It gets worse. A new comprehensive study by two professors in California found that students at four-year colleges in 1961 studied 24 hours a week. Today they study just 14 hours.

The reasons are part-time jobs (often to pay for those fancy “minimum-wage coffees”) and the Internet (though most of the erosion came in the 1980s). The rule of thumb had been that for every hour in class, two should be spent studying. That is no longer so. One reason is said to be the growing power of students — through teacher evaluations and their importance in winning tenure — and the reluctance of professors to challenge them.

This doesn’t make students less smart today. But they are less ready for the world than their parents. Employers are learning this painfully. The head of a large mutual fund allowed the other day that he had recently let go an eager, promising graduate with a good résumé. After a few days on the job, it became clear that the young man couldn’t write an English sentence. Source

So what do we have? Clearly when universities introduced professor evaluations I doubt that they anticipated that this would lead to students using these evaluations as a lever to intimidate professors. But this seems to be another unintended consequence.

Let me know if you are aware of other  unintended consequence scenarios.

Marketing Workshops and Professional Development Opportunities 2010-2011

Edmonton, Alberta, October 25 – November 5, 2010

The Centre for Excellence in Communications (CEC) , The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM), Ottawa and Brown Communications Group, Calgary, are offering a series of professional development workshops for the Western Canada public and not-for-profit sectors in the context of the

Alberta Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program, Edmonton, Alberta, October 25 – November 5, 2010.

WHY ATTEND?

The Alberta Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program is an opportunity for communications and marketing professionals, executives and managers to enjoy focused and tested professional development and training. The eight courses available have been successfully delivered to thousands of public, not-for-profit sector and other participants. They provide learning that is conceptually rigorous and practical, and that can be applied immediately. Course content is specifically relevant to the challenges faced by Western Canada marketers, communicators and anyone working in related areas.

The Alberta Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program:

  • Provides learning for individual career development and for building organizations’ leadership capacity;
  • Offers tools, techniques and strategies to enable managers and their marketing and communications professionals to better serve the needs of their internal and external partners and effectively reach key audiences and markets;
  • Helps strengthen organizations’ communications and marketing capabilities;
  • Offers access to professional development opportunities while saving costs and time and maximizing training budgets;
  • Provides excellent networking opportunities and the chance to see what others in the same professional areas are doing.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

Workshop Date
Price
Registration Status
Defining and Communicating Your Public Sector or Not-for-Profit Brand
October 25, 2010
$675
Register Now
Strategic Social Media Engagement in the Public Sector
October 26, 2010
$675
Register Now
Social Marketing Strategies and Behavioural Change: Translating Strategies into Action
October 27, 2010
$675
Register Now
Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for the Public and Not-For-Profit Sectors
October 28, 2010
$675
Register Now
Strategic Communications Planning: Critical Steps and Techniques
November 1, 2010
$675
Register Now
Measuring Communications Performance and Success through a Performance Measurement Framework and Strategy
November 2, 2010
$675
Register Now
Effective Messaging
November 3, 2010
$675
Register Now
Competencies for Communications Professionals
November 4, 2010
$675
Register Now

FEES

1-Day Workshops $675*
20% Group Rate Discount for 3+ Individuals from the Same Unit*

For each workshop, groups of 3 or more will receive a 20% discount off of the regular workshop fee for all but the first two registrations. Registrations need to be coordinated centrally by the relevant unit, with registrations # 1, 2, 3, etc. indicated in the additional comments section of each participants’ registration. *Cannot be combined with other discounts.

NOTE: Organizational unit is defined as a Branch, Bureau, Division or Sector.

Regular Workshop Fee $675.00*
Group Rates
1st and 2nd registrants $675.00* each
3rd and 4th registrants $540.00* each
Saving for 3 registrants -$135.00*
Saving for 4 registrants -$270.00*

Past Participant Discount

Any workshop registrant who previously participated in a CEC open workshop or registers for more than one workshop will automatically receive a 10% discount for each workshop beyond their initial registration. *Cannot be combined with other discounts.

In-House Workshops for up to 20 Participants from One Organizational Unit

Well suited for organizations with potential groups of communications, policy or program staff working on the same issues and programs.

Workshop duration 1/2 day 1 day 2 days
In-House session (Off-the-shelf) $3,000.00* $4,950.00* $8,750.00*
Customization cost $1,250.00/day*

* Prices do not include applicable taxes

Atlantic Canada Marketing AND Communications Professional Development Program

Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 24 – February 2, 2011

The Centre for Excellence in Communications (CEC), The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM), Ottawa and Dynamic Learning Inc., Halifax, are offering a series of professional development workshops for the Atlantic Canada public and not-for-profit sectors in the context of the

Atlantic Canada Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program, Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 24 – February 2, 2011.

WHY ATTEND?

The Atlantic Canada Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program is an opportunity for communications and marketing professionals, executives and managers to enjoy focused and tested professional development and training. The eight courses available have been successfully delivered to thousands of public, not-for-profit sector and other participants. They provide learning that is conceptually rigorous and practical, and that can be applied immediately. Course content is specifically relevant to the challenges faced by Atlantic Canada marketers, communicators and anyone working in related areas.

The Atlantic Canada Marketing and Communications Professional Development Program:

  • Provides learning for individual career development and for building organizations’ leadership capacity;
  • Offers tools, techniques and strategies to enable managers and their marketing and communications professionals to better serve the needs of their internal and external partners and effectively reach key audiences and markets;
  • Helps strengthen organizations’ communications and marketing capabilities;
  • Offers access to professional development opportunities while saving costs and time and maximizing training budgets;
  • Provides excellent networking opportunities and the chance to see what others in the same professional areas are doing.

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

Workshop Date
Price
Registration Status
Strategic Communications Planning: Critical Steps and Techniques
January 24, 2011
$675
Register Now
Measuring Communications Performance and Success through a Performance Measurement Framework and Strategy
January 25, 2011
$675
Register Now
Effective Messaging
January 26, 2011
$675
Register Now
Competencies for Communications Professionals
January 27, 2011
$675
Register Now
Communicating For Employee Engagement And Developing A Rewarding Workplace
January 28, 2011
$675
Register Now
Social Marketing Strategies and Behavioural Change: Translating Strategies into Action
January 31, 2011
$675
Register Now
Strategic Social Media Engagement in the Public Sector
February 1, 2011
$675
Register Now
Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for the Public and Not-For-Profit Sectors
February 2, 2011
$675
Register Now

FEES

1-Day Workshops $675*
20% Group Rate Discount for 3+ Individuals from the Same Unit*

For each workshop, groups of 3 or more will receive a 20% discount off of the regular workshop fee for all but the first two registrations. Registrations need to be coordinated centrally by the relevant unit, with registrations # 1, 2, 3, etc. indicated in the additional comments section of each participants’ registration. *Cannot be combined with other discounts.

NOTE: Organizational unit is defined as a Branch, Bureau, Division or Sector.

Regular Workshop Fee $675.00*
Group Rates
1st and 2nd registrants $675.00* each
3rd and 4th registrants $540.00* each
Saving for 3 registrants -$135.00*
Saving for 4 registrants -$270.00*

Past Participant Discount

Any workshop registrant who previously participated in a CEC open workshop or registers for more than one workshop will automatically receive a 10% discount for each workshop beyond their initial registration. *Cannot be combined with other discounts.

In-House Workshops for up to 20 Participants from One Organizational Unit

Well suited for organizations with potential groups of communications, policy or program staff working on the same issues and programs.

Workshop duration 1/2 day 1 day 2 days
In-House session (Off-the-shelf) $3,000.00* $4,950.00* $8,750.00*
Customization cost $1,250.00/day*

* Prices do not include HST

HOW TO REGISTER

On-line

Atlantic Registration

By email

registration@comcec.com

By telephone

(613) 233 2175

By fax

(613) 233 7617

Location

Delta Barrington
1875 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3L6
(902) 429-7410

Click here or the logo above to book your room online.

The hotel has reserved a limited number of rooms at a special rate ($129/night) for our program. This rate is available to participants who book their accommodations before January 6, 2011. Please inform the hotel booking agent that you will be attending the Atlantic Canada Marketing & Communications Professional Development Program when making your reservation. Reservations should be made by calling (902) 474-5150 or
1-888-423-3582.

NEED MORE INFORMATION?

Please contact information@comcec.com or 613-233-2175.

All information is copyright © The Centre for Excellence in Communications

The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing 2011

Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

REGISTER NOW

For more information please contact jim.mintz@publicsectormarketing.ca or 613 731 9851 #18 leslie_love@carleton.ca 613 520-7507

There is a rising need for highly-skilled marketing professionals in the public and non-profit sectors to effectively bring their organization’s products, services and messages to the marketplace.

In keeping with changing times we have made some alterations to our program. First we reduced it from 10 to 8 days. Second we have expanded our social media segment from 1 to 2 days and third we changed the term project from a full report and study to a 15 minute presentation and executive summary. Also our program will be more interactive, engaging participants to more applied form of learning

The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing is uniquely designed to equip participants with the information, tools and solutions necessary to skillfully and mindfully navigate their way through the fascinating and complex world of marketing. This program engages participants in a rich learning environment that reinforces theory with practical, real-life examples based upon the extensive experience of the instructors.

7 Course Modules – 8 days over 4 months

Module 1: Fundamentals of Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing Jan. 19, 2011
Module 2: Marketing Research and Evaluation Jan. 20, 2011
Module 3: Creative Marketing Techniques Mar. 1, 2011
Module 4: Social Marketing Mar. 2, 2011
Module 5: Partnerships, Strategic Alliances and Collaborative Arrangements Apr. 8, 2011
Module 6: Strategic Social Media Engagement Apr. 20-21, 2011
Module 7: How to Create and Sustain a Marketing Culture / Presentations Day May 13, 2011
Final Exam – Online
(no class attendance)
May 23, 2011

Why You Should Attend

•      Develop an action-oriented, strategic marketing plan for your organization

•      Become skilled at setting realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals

•      Learn how to communicate messages effectively to key stakeholders and the public

•      Share experiences with marketers in your sectors and expand your network

Who Should Attend

Managers working for government, crown corporations/agencies, non-profit organization and associations who are responsible for:

  • Marketing programs, products and services targeted to the public, business and government
  • Sponsorship and partnership development
  • Membership development and revenue generation
  • Exhibit and event marketing
  • Social marketing, community outreach and public education programs
  • Strategic communications, media relations and media advocacy
  • Online and web marketing, social media and digital marketing

Tuition

$3,995 + HST

Deposit of $800 required to reserve a place in the program.

Course fee include:

  • Refreshments
  • Breakfasts & Lunches
  • All text books and course materials
  • Framed certificate of completion from the Sprott School of Business

Course Modules

Module 1: Fundamentals of Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

  • An overview of marketing in the public and non-profit sectors.
  • Understand how marketing differs in the private, public and non-profit sectors.
  • The processes to develop and implement an action-oriented, strategic marketing plan.
  • How to develop a client-based mindset in a public sector and non-profit organization
    • Review the format and guidelines for developing a marketing plan for your organization

(See Module 7, Course Project Components, below)

Module 2: Marketing Research and Evaluation

  • Understand how to use market research to support decision-making framework.
  • Key concepts in consumer behaviour.
  • The most effective methods for acquiring and using market intelligence.
  • Develop a system for measuring progress and monitoring performance.

Module 3: Creative Marketing Techniques

  • The latest trends in marketing and how the shift from “transactions” to “relationships” is changing the way organizations are communicating with its stakeholders;
  • The role of various marketing mediums and their impact on moving target audiences along the causal chain of changed behaviour;
  • How other public sector organizations are using innovative approaches to reach and engage their constituents;

Module 4: Social Marketing

  • A step-by-step structured approach to preparing a social marketing plan that is actionable and will have maximum impact.
  • Implement a social marketing program on a very limited budget.
  • How social marketing is different from public education, outreach and other communication strategies.
  • How to use social marketing to give you a single approach for mobilizing communities, influencing the media, lobbying/advocacy, building strategic alliances with business.

Module 5: Partnerships, Strategic Alliances and Collaborative Arrangements

  • Knowledge of  process for establishing strategic alliances and partnerships, assessing challenges and risks, prioritizing and selecting partners, developing “value propositions” and proposals to private sector and other organizations, implementation and managing collaborative arrangements.
  • Knowledge of measuring the impact of strategic alliances, e.g. impact indicators that alliances are working, including objective setting, assessment methods, defining and measuring success, establishing baselines and measuring and  assessing value-for-dollar

Module 6: Strategic Social Media Engagement

  • Incorporate automated social media monitoring activities into your daily schedule.
  • Move away from one-way communication and enter the world of two-way conversation.
  • Mitigate risks in both public sector and non-profit organizational environments
  • Measure your return on effort

Module 7: How to Create and Sustain a Marketing Culture / Presentations Day

  • Examples of organizations that have created a marketing culture in the public and nonprofit sectors.
  • Best practices in creating a marketing culture in public and non-profit organization.

Student Presentations

During this session all course participants will present their course project for approximately 15 minutes and submit an executive summary report as a supporting document to the presentation

Course Project Components

1)       Final Presentation: 15 minutes, highlight key elements and  sell your marketing strategy

2)       Executive Summary Report: supporting document for the participant’s presentation

Final Exam – Online (no class attendance)

Professional Certificate in Public Sector & Non-Profit Marketing – Faculty

Jim Mintz (Program Director)
Formerly Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications Division at Health Canada, Jim is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing. In addition to being the Program Director of the Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing, he also teaches this subject at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health in Tampa. Jim is Past President of the American Marketing Association (AMA) Ottawa Chapter and served at AMA International in Chicago. He is a recipient of the AMA Ottawa “Marketer of the Year” award. Jim has also served on the Federal Government Communications Policy Committee. A frequent speaker at conferences and workshops in North America and around the world, Jim has also published articles on social marketing, public/private strategic alliances and other related topics. Prior to joining the federal government, he held senior marketing positions in the private sector.

Bernie Colterman (Program Director)
Bernie is Co-Founder and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing and President of the Colterman Marketing Group Canada, an Ottawa-based marketing solutions provider whose clients include federal, provincial and municipal governments, national associations and non-profit organizations. Bernie has facilitated numerous marketing campaigns for the government and the non-profit sectors. A master at brokering strategic alliances and partnerships, he has facilitated hundreds of collaborative arrangements for both industry and government – raising over $25 million in sponsorships and spearheading high profile partnership initiatives for Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Public Safety Canada, Province of Ontario and National Capital Commission. Bernie is Executive Producer of MARCOM, an annual marketing symposium dedicated to the specialized needs of the public and non-profit sectors. He is a regular contributor to publications and speaks at conferences aimed at government and non-profit audiences.

Judith Madill, PhD
Judith Madill is the Paul Desmarais Professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. She was previously Professor and Coordinator of the Marketing Area at the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University. She has taught in Europe and other parts of the world. She has authored over 40 papers and reports, including From Public Education to Social Marketing: The Evolution of the Heritage Canada Anti-Racism Social Marketing Program. Judith is a frequent speaker on marketing and consults in the areas of public sector/social/relationship marketing and partnerships.

Mike Kujawski
Mike is a passionate marketing & social media strategist, who works solely with public sector and non-profit organizations. He now leads all of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing digital marketing projects. Mike’s most recent tasks include the development of strategic digital marketing and social media engagement plans for the Public Safety Canada, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and the Foreign Credential Recognition Program at HRSDC. He also worked on the development of comprehensive marketing and communications plans for the Department of National Defence, the Public Service Commission and the City of Burlington. Mike is a distinguished speaker, engaging blogger, and highly praised workshop facilitator in his field. He created Canada’s first national workshop and comprehensive workbook on how to develop a social media marketing strategy in a public sector setting. Mike also created the Government 2.0 Best Practices Wiki, which has garnered international attention as the first collaborative central archive of government social media initiatives in Canada and abroad.

REGISTER NOW

For more information please contact jim.mintz@publicsectormarketing.ca or 613 731 9851 #18 leslie_love@carleton.ca 613 520-7507

The Senseless Census…Why Government Needs to Take a Marketing Approach to Developing Policies and Programs.

As someone who has been in the marketing game as an executive, manager, professor, consultant in the private and public sector for close to 35 years,  I sometimes wonder if politicians and their subordinates and bureaucrats have any idea  how to do stuff that is cost efficient and makes sense. We are living in an age of sound bites and instant decision-making where no one has the time to think things through and worst people don’t do their homework before making decisions. And oh yes when they do make a decision they don’t have the foggiest notion how to properly communicate it.  

How do you explain the stupidity of our municipal government cancelling the light rail project in Ottawa which will cost taxpayers 100 million dollars with nothing to show for it? After a few years of planning and endless meetings a decision was made to build a North South Light Rail. But after contracting the project out some new politicians come into power and recommend that we scrap the North South Line because we should be building an East-West line. Great… but if the right decision was to go East-West line why didn’t we do this in the first place and save ourselves millions of dollars. How are decisions made? Did the bureaucrats and politicians not know that the need was for East -West?

 The most recent blog I wrote about the provincial government’s  eco fee disaster which clearly demonstrates the lack of strategy and basic common sense. Did anyone do any thinking before they introduced the new eco fee? Apparently not.  The poor Minister of Environment had to eat humble pie and cancel the eco tax.  Now the taxpayer has to pick up the tab.

We have a Minister responsible for our Treasury Board at the federal level who wants to build more prisons, although crime rates are decreasing. His concern seems to be with unreported crime. So, let us follow the logic here: The problem with the current system is that it doesn’t punish crimes we’re not entirely sure are happening severely enough. That’s why the crime rate is so high, even though it’s not, but it would be if people reported all the crimes that are taking place.

Of course the crème de la crème is the government’s decision to cancel the mandatory long-form census questionnaire. Now actually I always felt that the government should rethink the census. Although the info we get from the census is great, for marketers and business much of the data comes to us too late. There has to be a way in this modern age of technology to speed up the process.  I also agree that threatening people with imprisonment if they don’t answer the mandatory long form was ridiculous and frankly Orwellian (although nobody has ever gone to jail for this crime). I also felt for many years that there were too many questions (and yes some very intrusive and probably should have been omitted.)

 But what I would have expected the government to do when making changes to the census is consult with the users of the census. The data generated by the long-form census questionnaire provide decision-makers in the public and private sectors with a deep and rich set of facts about Canadians, facts that are reliable at the local, regional and national levels.  Perhaps the Minister and his officials should have gone out and spend some time talking to people who use the data. Yes Consultation!

As the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) wrote in their letter to the government

“ the concern about the Government’s decision to cancel the mandatory long-form and introduce a voluntary  new National Household Survey (NHS) —  (which would have a wider distribution one in three households than the long-form questionnaire .) The concern of the MRIA is that the response rate will likely be substantially lower and the resulting data less robust, given that hard-to reach segments of the population will not likely be included among respondents. The experience of survey researchers and social scientists is that those in lower-income groups, ethnic minorities, and the wealthiest citizens are least likely to answer questions voluntarily.

This they claim would lead to skewed data and doubts about the accuracy of information that is relied upon by public policy and business decision-makers. Without robust census data, it will be exceedingly difficult for governments to respond effectively to shifting patterns of need in the populace or to introduce changes that provide the greatest value for money. One particularly problematic outcome of the elimination of the mandatory long-form questionnaire would be the eradication of the only reliable, national source of information on aboriginal educational achievement.

Census long-form questionnaire constitute crucial input for the sample designs of other national surveys. The long-form data are also combined with other survey data to compute and extrapolate rates for key social and economic indicators. For example, local health authorities can use their own survey data combined with census data to calculate rates of health service utilization and many other vital statistics.

The new National Household Survey – may be biased on important dimensions such as income, education, housing status, and many others. Researchers across the country, working on projects in all areas of public policy and business decision-making, will have no data with which to correct for these biases. It will also not be possible for researchers to compare numbers from census to census, and analyze trends. Source

Now you would think the people who make a living from polling people 365 days a year might have some valuable information to impart. Why didn’t someone in the government think of talking to people who represent the public opinion research and market intelligence industry in Canada before making decisions on the census?

So why Marketing?

Yes the decision to build a light rail transit which did not focus on East – West as opposed to North-South did not make sense. But why did we not know this at the beginning of the process. How was the decision made?

And yes it makes sense to charge a fee to keep discards out of landfills and, if possible, to recycle or reuse their components. Companies that make and sell stuff, and those of us who buy it, should take responsibility for what happens when we’re finished with it.

And maybe there is a good reason to build new prisons. Some of our prisons are very old and need substantial repairs. Maybe we need different prisons i.e. less maximum security and more medium security prisons to house white-collar crime which may be on the rise or maybe we simply want to put more criminals in prison for a longer time to keep our cities safer. I am certainly not opposed to being tougher on crime.  But what’s the deal with building prisons because of unreported crime? Who came up with that one?

Yes we certainly need to rethink the census. For example some countries have done away with the census but not in the name of privacy. The Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and other European states have extensive administrative data bases that contain the same information that Canada gathers in the census. These data include registration numbers that are used to create linked data bases for all individuals living in these countries. The residents (citizens and non-citizens alike) in these countries are obliged to provide this information. All interactions with the state (health, education, taxation, the justice system, migration) are recorded in these data bases.

My beef with governments is not necessarily what they do but how they do it.

What would happen if government took a MARKETING APPROACH which requires them to get a full understanding of the environment in which they are making decisions and consulting with clients, customers, users, stakeholders, partners before introducing new policies, programs, products and services? A marketing approach would ensure that there are clear messages (based on solid marketing research) with clear rationales behind the decisions taken on any given initiative

In an era when governments need to be more responsive and accountable to the needs of the public, marketing can help governments accomplish this goal. With governments, crown corporations/agencies and other public institutions spending significant dollars delivering programs and services, there is a need for increased efficiency, accountability and transparency in the processes used to deliver these initiatives

I would be glad to sit down with policy makers at all levels of government to show them how taking a marketing approach to their program and policy challenges will result in better decisions and save the tax payer millions of dollars..