The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’. Here’s a video starring its progenitors. The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).
Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice. I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.
Today, Phase one, the state
Dear Problem Lady,
I am an official in the Department of Administrative Affairs. We keep getting long letters and petitions addressed to the Minister from some outfit called “Raise the Alarm.” It appears to be made up of the usual suspects and a few bee-in-their-bonnet scientists. What should we do?
Would Extreme Brevity Expedite Retreat?
My goodness, WEBER, if I am having to give you advice on how to “lose” correspondence, then the hollowing out of the state has progressed further than I feared. As I told CURTS, whom I believe sponsors your department’s annual picnic, and fact-finding trips to Tahiti and Davos, nine times out of ten these “RTA” types give up and go away. Lose the correspondence. File it in the circular file. If you must, by law, give replies, make sure these are carefully-worded boilerplate full of meaningless buzzwords. Don’t they teach you anything in Bureaucrat Academy anymore?.