Why we should ban the word “Backflip”

“Backflip”. It’s become the ultimate criticism of Government, an easy, almost flippant attack wielded by media, oppositions and disaffected interested groups.

What’s wrong with a government changing its mind? What’s wrong with being flexible and adapting to what the community wants after proper consideration? What’s wrong with saying we decided we could do better because we listened?

When did being responsive and democratic become a sign of failure?

Let’s replace “backflip” with “overhaul”, “refresh”, “update” or “reinvent”.

Let’s praise our brave government leaders who engage with the community and stakeholders and adopt good advice even when it’s not what they originally thought.

In order to help government leaders do this well, we need to consider:

  • clearly articulating why they’ve changed their position or program, and explain how they’ve incorporated or considered the views of the community
  • seek the input of the community and stakeholders much earlier in decision making so decisions are more likely to reflect community needs
  • doing a better job of explaining complex dilemmas early and in a way that the community can understand how difficult it is to create a policy or programs for all
  • support and praise governments when they do respond to the community.