We Don’t Make Widgets

Or do we? If you are ready to shake up everything you think you know about the way government works, this might be a great place to start.

Highlighting many myths about government–such as government employees do we-dont-make-widgets1not make widgets, they do not have customers or they do not make a profit–Ken Miller brings to light just what government widgets, customers and profits might look light. If you have ever applied for a driver’s license, you most definitely have experienced widgets (forms) and customers (you–well, not quite).

Understanding who the customers are is a challenging process. Acknowledging that we even have customers is usually where government fails. Think about who the customer might be of your driver’s license–you? The driver’s license is a widget that proves your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Law enforcement professionals use the driver’s license to verify your credentials. Restaurant staff use the same widget to verify your age, and the clerk at REI use the widget to verify a credit card purchase. Perhaps you are the broker of your driver’s license.

According to the Merriam-Webster.com, a broker is someone who acts as the intermediary during a transaction. Let us say that you want to purchase a new iPad with a credit card. Apple asks for your driver’s license–a document from the government that verifies your credentials. You may be the customer for the iPad. Nonetheless, you are the broker for your driver’s license. Apple is the customer of the driver’s license and the government is the manufacture of the widget.

When we have a better understanding for whom our customers are, we are better able to serve them. “With customers, as well as employees, it is not enough to remove the items that cause dissatisfaction; we must also replace them with items that lead to satisfaction” (Miller, 2013, p. 74).

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