Building a Strategy for New Zealand – some starters

Here are a few starter strategy phrases. They should give some flavour of the sorts of things that could make good goals. The idea is not to have a goal cover everything, but to address the key things that drive the big changes in the big numbers.

Let’s take life expectancy as an example. We want people to live longer, and we let’s say that reducing road accidents is the biggest easiest way for us to increase overall lifespans. Therefore a goal for 2020 could be:

We have Zero Fatalities each year on our roads.

Which is already a goal for Sweden.

So – here are some other potential goals for 2020. The aim would be to have three to five only:

Our average life expectancy is 85 (90?) years, for overall and for Maori & Pakeha (preventative care)

New Zealand is Carbon Neutral (We’ve done more than our bit for global warming)

Our GDP is 50% 25%? the size of Australia’s (we’ll need to be smarter and with more population to get there)

Our tax system creates zero deadweight loss (100% tax efficiency)

The Government spend is 30% 40%? of GDP (Efficient Government)

50% of people can speak 100 phrases in Maori, 29% speak more than 3 languages (Multiculturalism)

The average income for Maori and women is within 5% of white males. (equity equality)

New Zealand Government holds $100 billion more overseas assets than debts (fiscal responsibility)

Add some more….

{edited after some good comments below}

Published by Lance Wiggs


7 replies on “Building a Strategy for New Zealand – some starters”

  1. I thought that you were earlier arguing for fewer not more goals. Don’t you run the risk of drowning in objectives? Wouldn’t it make more sense to chose a few big goals around which you can build consensus?

    I was at a business function last week. We talked about ambitious goals and how to make them happen, while also achieving other objectives such as a great workplace culture, green business, community support, etc.. The overwhelming opinion – go for the big goal. The 2nd order goals are design features which can influence how you achieve your primary goal. But first and foremost, you focus on how to achieve that primary goal. Success there makes all else affordable.


  2. Ah, but Jim you assume everyone will be working on all goals – some goals just won’t be of interest to a swathe of people but hey to the very existence of others.

    “The average income for Maori and women is within 5% of white males. (equity)” … how is this equity?


  3. Jim – Yes I am absolutely arguing for fewer goals. These are not the goals I am advocating, but examples of what could make the final few. We need them to be understandable, inspiring,measurable and tough yet achievable.

    I would aim for four goals across Economy size, People, the Environment and Cost of living/doing business.

    Mike – yes it was probably a bad title. Call it “multi-cultural” then. Maybe it’s 1%, maybe it is 10% – I am not on top of the current numbers.


  4. Why do we want to live longer?

    How about we want to live better? We could map that via a GPI and dump GDP where it belongs…… the dustbin of useless statistics.


  5. This list is just silly, Lance.

    New Zealand government already has no net debt. Fiscal responsibility has very little to do with how much overseas debt you have; It is about deficits. Because of the NZ Super Fund (the Cullern Fund) the government will hold about a hundred billion more of overseas assets than it holds in overseas debt. It will also be selling those assets down. That tells you a bit about fiscal responsibility, and a lot more about generational equity.

    Govt spend of 30% of GDP is not achieveable in 2020 without cutting superanuation and health care for large numbers of New Zealanders. Govt-provided health care alone will be around 12% of GDP. Superannuation costs will have doubled. You have just spent over half your 30% of GDP right there. Cutting them wouldn’t add a sauasage to the quality of life of a single New Zealander.

    New Zealand’s GDP won’t be 50% of Australia’s. Let’s say our economy grew 2% faster than Australia’s every year for the next 11. Then we would have GDP per head about 20% more than theirs. But they have five times our population (by then it might be six times). So you are really saying we need to grow our population three fold in eleven years – thats three quarters of a million people a year. Can’t be done.

    Average life expectancy ambition is a bit mild. It is currently increasing by about a year every three to five years. (Though it wouldn’t if you cut government spending to 30% of GDP.)

    A third of the country speaks 3 languages in 2020? Well they will will if we are bringing in three quarters of a million people a year. But in the absence of imigration this is saying about two hundred thousand people a year would get language training and be fully fluent in a year. That’s just stupid. And why should it be a goal for a country – not just an aspiration individuals choose for themsleves?

    The problem with pulling arbitray ‘goals’ and arbitrary numbers out of your hat is that it substitutes assertion for meaningful insight and reasoned advances. Just pulling out numbers that have no relation to reality is like sitting in a cave wondering why wheels don’t invent themsleves.

    Thoughtfulness is better.


  6. John
    Great reply – yes the list is silly.

    The list was not designed to be realistic when it comes to either which goals or the value of those goals. It is more designed to show the kind of goals that we could be aiming for.
    So you are right – and the numbers are distracting from the that, so I am going to edit to make that clear…


  7. Fair enough.

    I like the aspirational quality of big goals, but I am pretty sure that you get more done by saying ‘next year we will be 10% better’ than by saying ‘in ten years we will be 100% better.’ The reason: accountability. You can be held accountable for making an ambitious but achievable goal for next year; you can’t be held accountable for a blue sky goal ten years out.


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