POLITICAL NOUS – an experiment with CHATGPT

You should start by reading an article about political nous. For example, https://www.themandarin.com.au/67674-political-acumen-why-do-public-managers-need-to-be-political/

You will see that some of the words or phrases in this article are picked up in this answer produced by CHATGPT. It is not, of course, acceptable for public servants to take into account the potential impact of the government’s popularity or electoral prospects. That is way over the line. So CHATGPT does not get it!

We think you will agree that such subtle, complex notions, which require judgement, wisdom and appreciation of context, is not well handled by CHATGPT. Political nous is gained through commitment to public service principles underlying it, but also through repeated experience, helped by observation of others and honed over time, with continual learning.

The question we asked was “How could a bureaucrat* advising a Minister demonstrate political nous?”  Here was the answer.

A bureaucrat advising a minister could demonstrate political nous by having a deep understanding of the political environment in which the minister operates, including the current government's priorities and agenda, opposition views and strategies, as well as public opinion on relevant policy issues. Additionally, the bureaucrat could provide recommendations to the minister that take into account the potential political consequences of different courses of action, such as potential impacts on the government's popularity, political alliances, or electoral prospects.

For example, the bureaucrat might advise the minister to frame a controversial policy proposal in a way that appeals to a broader cross-section of the population, or to present the proposal in a way that minimizes opposition from interest groups or political rivals. By doing so, the bureaucrat is demonstrating a keen political awareness and a ability to provide strategic counsel that advances the minister's goals while taking into account political realities

*By the way, forgive the word bureaucrat but it is hard to find a word that covers all different public service systems.. Grant Robertson said in a recent speech that he dislikes the word bureaucrat. What do you think?