The 5 C’s

Based on years of research in multiple countries, at every level of government and public education, David Osborne and his colleagues have identified five levers that have the power to transform public bureaucracies into the more flexible, innovative, cost-effective organizations we need in the 21st century: purpose, consequences, accountability, power, and culture. Recode these key pieces of organizational DNA, and the behavior of a bureaucracy will change in fundamental ways. Hence in our work we pursue five basic strategies, which we like to call the “Five C’s”:

Can you find the 5 Cs?

  • Core Strategy: Create clarity of organizational purpose through strategic focusing on measurable outcome goals, elimination of work that no longer contributes to those outcomes, and separation of steering (policy and direction) and rowing (operations).
  • Consequences Strategy: Create consequences for performance through entrepreneurial management, managed competition, and performance management.
  • Customer Strategy: Make the organization accountable to its customers by giving customers a choice of service providers, with public money following that choice, or by developing customer service standards, redress policies, and other methods to assure customer satisfaction.
  • Control Strategy: Decentralize control to distribute decision making throughout the system by redesigning administrative systems (particularly budget and finance, procurement, and personnel), by empowering employees, and by empowering communities.
  • Culture Strategy: Change employees’ habits, hearts, and minds by building a culture of innovation, trust, cooperation, and a focus on results.