On any analysis, these commitments qualify as what management guru Jim Collins calls BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. BHAGs focus on long-term change, acting as an ambitious vision to orient action. Government is a natural place for BHAGs. The incentive for politicians is to identify the gap between the status quo and the future that voters want, and promise to plug it with policy action. Osborne and Gove were both trying to catch the political wind with their big ideas. The last government turned some of these BHAGs into law – on climate change, child poverty, and fuel poverty. There is no suggestion yet that either Mr Osborne or Mr Gove are about to legislate – but our forthcoming study of the problems the last government had in meeting its target to end fuel poverty shows the perils of a big gap between rhetoric and action. We have identified six questions policy makers need address: 1. How are you defining the problem? High level ambitions can achieve consensus (who would disagree that we should tackle fuel poverty?) but good implementation usually requires nailing down a single definition to guide policy choices and to indicate progress. The definition the previous government […]

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