121 – Squire to the giants. Who are the giants in common?

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                                                 830 words


I recently found a new and interesting blog called ‘Squire to the Giants’. Much like thinkpurpose.com this blog site is aimed at people who have an interest in improving their organisation through systems thinking. A recent post talks about the ‘giants’ that have influenced the Squire’s thinking. I am familiar with some of the ‘giants’ and have others of my own.

The Squire lists the following giants:

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of Peter Scholtes  and John Seddon. Both have influenced the thinking of writers. The biographical pieces written by the Squire  are worth a look.

I have decided to produce a blog on one of my giants.


mark h moore picProfessor Mark H. Moore

First some background. Mark H. Moore is the Hauser Professor of Nonprofit Organisations and director of the Hauser Centre for Nonprofit Organisations, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

His research interests include public management and leadership, civil society and community mobilization, and criminal justice policy and management. He has pioneered research on the way leaders of public organisations can engage communities in supporting and legitimatising their work.

His publications include ‘Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government’; ‘Dangerous Offenders: The Elusive Targets of Justice’; ‘From Children to Citizens: The Mandate for Juvenile Justice’; ‘Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing’; ‘Creating Public Value through State Arts Agencies’; and, most recently, ‘Recognising Public Value’. He certainly likes a sub-title.

creating public value coverMoore has become famous for his concept of public value, first explored in ‘Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government’. In it he argues that the creation of public value is the central activity of public managers, just as the creation of private value is at the core of private sector managers’ action. This is a great point to make for all public managers (and in using this term Moore includes both elected leaders and the managers of the administration). All too often we lose sight of the reason we are employed to do what we do. It can quickly become about the buildings or parks or roads, and not the people who use them and what they expect.

In ‘Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government’ , published in 1995, Moore offered advice to public managers about how to create public value but it left a key question unresolved: how public value, once created, be recognized in an accounting sense? I think this gap made his book interesting and thought provoking but ultimately useless for many in the public sector. It wasn’t easy to see how to operationalise his ideas.

recognising public value coverIn his latest book ‘Recognising Public Value’, published in 2013, Moore closes solves that problem. He sets out a philosophy of performance measurement to help public managers identify and quantify the value they produce. It is a great read and contains worked examples for each key concept. In particular, he has developed the Public Value Account as an alternative to the private sector ‘bottom line’, to help ensure that achievement of “collectively defined missions, the fairness with which agencies operate, and the satisfaction of clients and other stake-holders” are reflected in organisational operations.

To help public managers execute strategies that sustain or increase the value they create into the future, Moore has also developed the Public Value Scorecard, which focuses on the actions necessary to build legitimacy and support for the envisioned value, and on the innovations required in operational capacity. He has focused on the ways in which leaders of public organizations can engage communities in supporting and legitimatising their work.

I have found his strategic triangle concept extremely useful in illustrating the alignment of the authorising environment, operational and administrative capabilities, and values, goals and mission necessary to create public value.

There are numerous posts about Mark H. Moore and public value on this site. I recommend that you read them and follow up his books, especially ‘Recognising Public Value’, or the sources listed below. He is a true giant who has led thinking on the purpose (to quote John Seddon) of public services for over two decades.

More information


In summer 2010, the Center for Leadership and Values in Society (CLVS) of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) hosted a series of events with Harvard professor Mark Moore.

From New Public Management to Public Value:Paradigmatic Change and Managerial Implications by Janine O’Flynn at The Australian National University