How can Europe survive?

Posted on 31 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Roberto Priolo on Europe trying to solve its problems and governments leaning out

Last week, after a night of negotiating and head-scratching, the leaders of the Eurozone have managed to make a deal that is expected to bring some stability to the markets and save the Euro from a very dire future. Along with a 50% write-off of the Greek debt, the EU has agreed on a 1 trillion euro bailout fund to save nations if need be. The meeting was seen as the last chance for Europe to get back on track in trying and solve its increasing economic and financial problems.

Britain is not going to contribute money to the European Financial Stability Facility bailout fund, but there is a lot of interest on the country’s European peers: if continental nations went bust, there would be little the UK can do to stem the dramatic consequences.

Weaker economies in the European Union were invited to present stability plans and to live by them afterwards. Italy was one of such countries: PM Silvio Berlusconi presented a business case for the Italian economy, hours after ending a week-long struggle with his coalition allies to push retirement age in Italy to 67.

Italy will have to lean out in order to meet EU requirements: for example, the number of MPs and senators will be halved and the humongous bureaucratic monster every Italian has to deal with on a daily basis will need to be tamed (waste will be reduced through gradual cuts to the number of civil servants). It will also be easier to make workers redundant (when economic issues arise, rather than for any other reason) and this is expected to be an incentive for companies to hire. Some services will be privatised, and this might just enhance their quality, as several players start to compete on delivering value for customers.

It will be difficult for Italy to reach all this targets, like it will be difficult for Greece to recover from the terrible blow its economy suffered. It will also be very hard for stronger European economies like Germany and France to constantly find new ways to save the continent from implosion.

Lean in government is something that really fascinates me, and I believe there are tremendous opportunities for improvement there. However, there are many other topics I’ve had a chance to explore during conferences and similar events. A few weeks ago, for example, I attended the Lean Business System conference in Birmingham. It was organised by SA Partners and provided a lot of interesting insight into lean implementation. The next day I was at an eBecs customer convergence day in London, where the latest advancements in the Microsoft Dynamics offering were presented (lean capabilities have never been stronger, the company claims). You can read reviews of these and other events in the LMJ in conference section of the November/December issue of Lean Management Journal, which is going to press very soon.

Lean can be applied to many different sectors and realities, and sometimes one would be drawn to believe there is nothing it can’t help with. There is an event I would like to point you to: the Business Execution for Financial Services seminar that i-nexus will hold on November 18th at the Russell Square House in London. I-nexus CEO Paul Docherty, who has also contributed to LMJ recently, will discuss how the emerging discipline of Business Execution is helping organisations manage their policy deployment processes and aligning them with lean initiatives. This direct link of strategy to action has enabled many global companies to dramatically improve performance.

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Roberto Priolo
Editor, the Lean Management Journal