When/if I do get the chance to start doing something systemsy, I’ll come back here and type about it.
Ideally that would be next week but I doubt it as it has been almost two years since I’ve had a beneficial effect on core council services, i.e. the purpose of the council, so don’t hold your breath that the next post will be next week. [link]
Since I wrote those peremptory words exactly 2 years ago, I’ve started blogging at work.
Or should I say for work. This is how.
As I’ve said before I’M A POLICY OFFICER! Like an Army Officer or a Police Officer except useless and no uniform.
The job of a policy officer isn’t to produce policies. It is to scout around for government, Non-governmental Organisations, think-tank and other types of
press releases announcements and using the power of ctrl-c ctrl-v you take a 150 page report in impenetrable language and turn it into a 6 page report of impenetrable language.
God knows why, and who they are for, if asked I’m guessing the answer would be “everybody with an interest“, which is as close as you can get to saying “I don’t know” without actually saying the words.
So I was asked to do My First Policy Brief! Sitting with a blank word document open on one side of the screen and the PDF of the original press release nestling snuggily against it on the other. My job being to squeeze the 62 pages on the right of the screen into a couple of pages on the left. Autonomy, mastery and purpose here we come.
I sat there for quite a bit. I tried typing headings as below.
- Executive Summary
But that’s as far as I got. I couldn’t type anything else underneath it. I was trying to be a Policy Officer, with all those wordsmithing skills of taking a slender barely there truth and slathering on top great gobs of nonsense words, all in the passive voice (eg “The Council is recommended by…“) so as to distance yourself from anything inadvertently said within.
So I just didn’t try, and thought I would blog it instead, in a Word document though, not here. i.e. lashings of sarcasm, pictures stolen from the internet and a conversational tone. Not a paragraph to be seen.
At least 2 people, one of whom is me, says it’s fantastic which neatly demonstrates the poor quality we are used to.
Last week a possible customer of these sorts of things was being shown around the office, a cabinet member of the new party in charge. When being introduced to my bit she quite rightly mentioned, nicely in conversation, how troubling it is receiving every week loads of reports, all hundreds of pages long, and feeling that you HAD to read them all in case there was something really important that would be missed in it somewhere.
In the few occasions we have been able to speak directly with the political side of our “customers”, Councillors, this is something that has been the number one comment. Documents we produce are too long, too wordy and too impenetrable. I love that they notice this, that it is actually WE who are hiding saying very little behind saying an awful lot. A common criticism made against politicians, but actually practised by staff who work for them.
Here it is then. My First Policy Brief. I’m going to continue blogging for work, until somebody tells me to stop.