Being a public entrepreneur by approaching public problems with a private sector perspective is an important and new theme that public administrators have to keep in mind today. With shrinking resources in the public sector, agencies have to do more with less while establishing a value to what they are trying to accomplish otherwise they are at risk of being cut by policy makers. In my graduate assistantship work, I too have struggled with this idea of public worth. Since resources are more limited than ever, potential supporters and members of the Ohio Rural Health Association need more than “it is just a good idea” to pledge funding to the organization. If they do not see the worth of the association, they do not pledge money and therefore the project falls apart. My role as the project lead is to create a niche for the state association, so people get value out of the association.
Establishing a niche in the market is what any good entrepreneur does. Our market thrives on the idea of survival of the fittest; businesses that adapt and find holes in the market are successful. Dr. Weinberg first introduces the idea to me of approaching my project like how any entrepreneur would by looking at the market drivers for health. New businesses are not established without having some kind of product first. What I needed to do was tailor my organization and the products that the association would offer to what members of the association would want; this has been no easy task. When an association reaches out over various disciplines, those disciplines all want different things. The question then becomes what do I prioritize as the association’s vision?
Wednesday I will be presenting at the Statewide Rural Health Conference where, for the first time, the association’s “customers” will be exposed to the association’s efforts thus far. It will almost be like how any product is first tested before it is mass produced. This pilot test will determine the direction of my work moving forward. Will I have to refine my vision? Will the audience even approve of a state association? This is what we now have to do well as public administrators; prove the worth of programs and organizations to tax payers, customers, and policy makers.