Friday, 11 December 2009

Removing the destructive target driven culture

In the blogosphere I often see posts from others which go a long way to explaining what's going on around us right now ... and what could also be done to change things for the better. Many are well worth sharing with you here too, as they chime very well with this blog; including the following one below (from a new blogger to the BBC):

At 2:32pm on 11 Dec 2009, Russell Branch posted:

"Wealth generation comes from adding value for which people are prepared to pay. At its most fundamental, this is indeed from making, growing or creating things - converting raw materials into something which has a perceived monetary value. This value can be found in intellect, objects and "things", or indeed services such as provision of health, safety or protection. It depends upon the kind of society we want to live in as to how we rate and value these various things.

However, the current society we live in is governed by a ruling class who have taken central control over so much of our life through a target driven culture that the values are being skewed, or lost, in the name of political dogma. In our working lives, it is a truism that "what gets measured, gets done" but this simple fact belies the cost of the measuring! As one example of this out of thousands, and its repercussions: -

(Note, I came to know know about this following a conversation down the pub :-) , and I am making no statement whatsoever about the validity or not of this particular target)

There are new minority recruitment targets for the fire and safety services (document is here). In itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. But just think what this implies.

At some high level, this has been decided as a "target". It has necessitated the compilation of the figures as a first cost. But take this down to a local recruitment level. It is now necessary for someone to collect, collate and report on the outcome of every recruitment interview, and someone else to help make a decision on recruitment based not only on "the best person for the job" but also on their race, creed, colour or sexuality. This will also probably add in extra time in legal consultations to protect the service from accusations of bias from both the majority population and the minorities, plus additional training for the interviewer in removal of bias. Thus, two or three extra people are needed, all of who are taking away money from the ability to pay for front line service professionals.

As another example: my ex wife was an admin manager in a health trust. For every target handed down from a centralised decision making process, it was necessary to employ administrators just to prove that the targets were being met. In the NHS, there are hundreds of targets. For every three lower grade administrative assistants on £15K per year, count this as two young nurses on £22.5K per year, and just think a) how many more front line service providers could be employed or b) how much money could be saved, if the target culture was severely dismantled and local accountability handed back to local NHS services - plus all of the civil servants who collect all of these reports and collate them back into statistics for politicians to selectively quote as proof of their prowess.

Major savings are possible at the stroke of a pen ..."

And my comments to the above - "absolutely - I couldn't agree more ... what we need is 21st century management practice which would introduce "systematic & effective bureaucracy stripping" ... replacing league tables/targets, removing all the non-value added activities currently destroying the effectiveness of front line services, and redeploying resources to provide more front line services, as well as to supporting front line staff to systematically improve the level (and types) of services provided ... e.g. take a look my recent post here, as well as my book all about this too.