Around the world, trust in government is collapsing. Trust in all institutions, the establishment, the elite, is in a prolonged and probably irrevocable decline. 

In the long term, that’s very healthy. In the short term, dictators and strongmen will try and fill the void.

Organizations and leaders never deserved the level of trust they have been given. In fact, we are now paying the price of trusting too blindly and easily. Blind trust encouraged organizations and leaders to feel all-powerful and invincible.

Many organizations I come in contact with are internally-obsessed. I rarely meet nasty employees and I rarely meet nice organizations. Many organizations labor under the delusion that they’re still in control of the message. Even benevolent organizations feel that their customer can be directed to go in the ‘right’ direction. 

Some organizations wonder why they aren’t loved more, why customers don’t appreciate more what these organizations are doing. What such organizations fail to learn is that the age of the organization is over.

Facebook recently announced that it was changing its newsfeed so that content from friends gets more preference than content from media sources. This is just one more example of the shift away from organizations controlling the message. People look upwards less and less for the answer or for guidance. Instead, we now look around to our peers.

What has this got to do with government? They have to deal with us, government often says. They have no choice. Well, if people hate their government and hate dealing with it and hate paying taxes to it because they think it’s arrogant, wasteful, out-of-touch and inefficient, then bad things begin to happen in society.

The ‘they have to deal with us’ mentality has probably made governments the most out-of-touch organizations that exist today. 

That’s why something like GOV.UK is such a major achievement. You see, GOV.UK is not about government. It’s about you and what you need to do. The GOV.UK homepage isn’t polluted by huge useless propaganda ‘news’ images telling people about what government is doing for them. Rather, it is focused on helping people do the things they want to do.

Many governments are approaching the challenges of today in absolutely the wrong way. They seem to think that if they can just explain what government is doing then people will be impressed. People don’t want any more explanations. Nobody cares that government invested an extra €50 million in healthcare. They want to find a local health center. They want to choose the right doctor. They want to check up on a symptom.

Nobody cares about government plans or your programs or initiatives. All those things that government care so much about, the public is not even remotely interested in. The public and businesses just want to do stuff as quickly and painlessly as possible. They want to pay as little tax as they can, as quickly and easily as they can. They want to find out if they qualify for a grant or benefit without going through a mumbo jumbo land of jargon and excruciating processes.

Governments love to talk about how they’re working for people. Stop talking. Start working.