Category Archives: public sector

If it’s too complicated to understand it’s probably total nonsense

I stand on the periphery of “improvement activities” going on elsewhere in the organisation. I see things second and third hand through organisational gossip, i.e. people mentioning phrases or names of IT companies doing work elsewhere, somewhere. I’ve got no involvement … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Thor describes my purpose

I sit next to the photocopier at work. About 3 times a day somebody printing some papers off will ask me if I have a stapler they can borrow, to staple their papers together. This is a question I am … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

The Law Of The Instrument

I can’t stand digital by default. -How about analogue by default instead? I can’t stand digital evangelists. -How about analogue evangelists instead? I can’t stand Head of Digital. -How about Head of Analogue instead? I can’t stand digital offering. -How about … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking, tools | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Reality has a liberal bias

This is a  quote from an American comedian, taking the mickey out of imaginary Republicans complaining that reality itself is as biased as the liberal-elite media against Republican beliefs and actions. It is a joke about how people convinced they … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, statistics, systems thinking, targets | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

This mug cost £224,000,000

Well the mug itself didn’t but this is the only visible sign left in this building of a SIMPLY HUGE national computer system built at the cheap cheap rate of a quarter of a billion pounds. It was a database of every … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Are you a policy fashion victim?

I’m a big fan of Nassim Taleb but clearly he’s no fan of the likes of me. My one saving grace?  I do deadlift, 127.5kg for 6 reps, Mr Taleb. He’s never heard of me, but he knows my type.  I’m a … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

The Systemsy Policy Officer takes a bow

There’s loads of models of work hanging around. Everybody has one. There’s the dopey triangles with important people at the pointy end… There’s the more credible, though no less hopeful, model of a sensible organisation designing their system around purpose … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

E=Q*A FFS!

In my last post we all had a good giggle about how some improvement methods relegate the actual improvement to an afterthought, with managers doing it as a result of being sold and persuaded of a really good idea provided to … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, lean thinking, plausible but untrue, public sector, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

3 more things performance management GETS ALL WRONG

As Jay Z asserts, there is plenty wrong with performance management. And here’s 3 more! Name  The reverse pantomime horse gambit What is it? An organisation decides to do something, writes down a group of words and calls it an objective/goal/priority AND THEREFORE IT … Continue reading

Posted in data, measures, public sector, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Naughty…but nice

Say the phrase “Command and control management” out loud. Doesn’t sound nice does it? What do you think when you hear it? Things like… Call centre staff told to poo on their own time. Hospital patients dying to meet hospital targets. … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, change, command and control, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

What fresh hell is THIS?

No fresh hell sweetie. Just the latest incarnation of a stale and very familiar hell. Do you recognise this… yawning at yet another exactly-the-same organisational transformation? wiping sleep out of your eyes at yet another whizz-bang IT venture that’ll save lots … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

How to write a report (part two)

Remember last week’s post told you all about How To Write A Report? To write a lush report you’ve got to remember not to just report numbers and facts but actually do some analysing because… The purpose of analysis is … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to write a report (part one)

Hi! If you’re anything like me, you’re an office drone who types for a living. It isn’t as important as making things or healing people, but it IS a living. One of the main tasks of modern-day typists like me is … Continue reading

Posted in communication, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Wanted: Effective person to make efficiencies

I came across a job description. It was for a Business Transformation Improvement type. The document contains the word “efficiency” or variations thereof, 4 times. All in the context of “making” efficiencies. The word “effective”, or variations thereof,  is in … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, lean thinking, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

250,000 ways to be a management consultant

Tomorrow my blog should hit a quarter of a million views. Yay me. This actually means nothing at all. It’s an arbitrary number that allows me to use the word “million” and thus transfer some glamour onto the act of … Continue reading

Posted in public sector, strategic, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , | 27 Comments

A paper exercise

Once upon a time I had to write a plan. I was the Directorate Performance Management officer, so I wrote the Directorate Plan. I sat at my dining room table and I WROTE A PLAN. Except I didn’t. I wrote on … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, plans, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

I’m not touching that, it’ll do me back in!

This settee is crucial to this post , so take a good look at it. Harder. Go on, put your nose right up to it. This nasty looking thing used to be in my living room, there’s paint on it … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, systemz comix, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

When I hear the word “values”… I reach for my gin

That man was a Nazi, and this blog has no truck with that, but I have a similar reaction to talk of organisational culture, in particular, values I don’t get values. I think they’ve been spoiled for me by too … Continue reading

Posted in change, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

One weird trick to outfox the Henry Ford gambit

I done got a letter from a reader! Here is a dramatic reconstruction…. Remember these two diagrams? THIS one, the usual, the boring old triangle? And then there is this one, the one thats not a triangle, the one that … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, plausible but untrue, public sector, purpose, strategic, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , ,

Why I hate Ofsted

I’ve got an eleven year old in final year of primary school and Ofsted are ruining his education. Next week is SATS week. In that week children of the same age all around the country will be tested on how … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How to do a SWOT

In the most strategic of rooms in my building, I found an agenda on a flipchart. It is not exceptional, it is typical. This probably happens in your building. This is how decisions are made…. *the photo is real **the words … Continue reading

Posted in communication, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

How to create phonecalls you don’t want

Step 1: Do something that doesn’t solve the customer’s problem for them. Step 2: Err… that’s it. A fellow onion informs me of the fantastic efforts of a Government benefits department to create phonecalls from nothing. The department has to pay … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , ,

Seinfeld explains the great big fat work lie

******I’ve had feedback that these Gifs will take forever to load. They’re not static pics. That’s just your net speed. But it’s worth the wait, they’re HILARIOUS I promise you ******* There’s a cult of work as pure activity in … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, customer, public sector, strategic, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Why public sector IT is like a fart

A council faced with an IT product WILL buy it in the end. It’s like holding in a fart. Sooner or later it’s going to happen, and nothing can hold it back forever.

Posted in command and control, public sector, RuinedByBestEfforts, systems thinking, tools | Tagged , , ,

Your cheatsheet for why league tables are total balls

Public Sector bodies waste huge amounts of money on total balls. One of the most futile are the self-created league tables of performance indicators, showing where their organisation is on sorted lists against other similar organisations. Even though the government got rid … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , ,

What writing this blog taught me about pull

There’s always been a strong tang of resigned self pity running through this blog, like the reek of faeces in a brace of grilled andouillettes. This post however should truly please the connoisseur of bleak despair. Read on, and enjoy … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, me doing it, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , ,

9 more ways to tell you have a Joke Job

As per previous post, there are many types of Joke Jobs in C&C land. Here are 9 ways to tell you might have one of them. You type a lot of words. If you’re typing, try speaking. If there’s too … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | 4 Comments

25 things (that just might work) about measuring the right thing

I’ve concocted 25 suggestions, questions, hints and tips for a colleague policy officer who has seen the systemsy light yet still faces the task that everybody else hasn’t. Here they are. One just might work. All might be complete duff. No … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, data, me doing it, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

3 signs that you don’t like your customers

Public sector organisations don’t really like customers. They’d prefer you’d go away and stop making all your unreasonable demands that are quite frankly BANKRUPTING them. You keep ringing them up,  walking through the door even, and worse… asking to speak to … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, Demand, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Curry by default

Yes, you heard, don’t act shocked.

Posted in all wrong, customer, public sector, systems thinking, systemz comix | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Do you like my piece of paper?

“Say what you see” is the latest tagline of this blog. What I see every day is people creating pieces of paper to take into a room for people to look at and decide if they like that piece of … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, systems thinking, systemz comix | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Why I don’t care about the reputation of my organisation

This is Ant and Dec. They’re here to talk to us about trust. [For the benefit of my non-UK readers, they are TV presenters who have conquered virtually every glitzy shiny floored big budget Saturday evening show. They win awards … Continue reading

Posted in communication, customer, public sector, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

How do you make it hard to find a job?

It is hard enough to find a job if you need one, but if you don’t work, the system that is supposed to support you find a job certainly doesn’t work too. It is broken at the most crucial part … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, systemz comix | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Wag the dog

Who wags the tail? Spot wags the tail. Who wags the tail where you work? I have learnt that everything starts with the customer. Resident, patient or pupil, whoever When they contact the doctor/council/police/whatever that’s where things start. You: -start … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, customer, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How to measure a meeting

I’ve been in a meeting today! How can I tell how successful the meeting was? Measure it! With numbers! -it was held in room 42 -it lasted 75 minutes -there were 10 people -there was 1 PowerPoint -I ate 2 … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, thinking | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

How to achieve immortality in one easy step

Do you want to be remembered in your workplace? Want to be talked about when you’ve gone as that person who…? Here’s how in one easy step. Step one… 1: Do work that helps the end customer That’s it. Whether … Continue reading

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How do YOU waste time at work?

1: Performance manage at the strategic level What is said: “We performance manage at a higher level, conversations happen between senior leaders where we challenge delivery of outcomes, and identify where performance is slipping” What actually happens: Managers gossip about … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, learning, public sector, setting a numerical target is like..., statistics, systemz comix, targets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to be a Policy Expert

I’m a Policy Expert! YOU TOO can be a Policy Expert if you follow these simple steps! Step 0: DON’T follow what other Policy Experts do. Most self-proclaimed Policy Experts write up policies, they don’t change things so that policy … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Head-smashed-in buffalo jump

Yes, you read right. Head-smashed-in buffalo jump. For 6,000 years in North America the Blackfoot tribe ate, dressed and made their homes with bison that fell to their deaths at some cliffs called Head-smashed-in Buffalo jump The bison were not … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Twerking or working?

Rule 1: Twerking is not the same as working! If you worked here how could you know what “work” actually was? You’ve only seen twerking. If you work in a place where you get your purpose from the mouth of a … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, human brains are weird, leadership, public sector, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How not to be loved

How needy are YOU? Take this test to find out! Question 1 How much do you want to feel loved? A: I am a strong independent soul who doesn’t need but will gratefully accept loving. B: I need a cuddle. If … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reductio ad Hitlerum

Everyone knows Godwin’s Law, the First Law Of The Internet that broadly says in an internet argument the first person to invoke comparisons with the Nazis has lost. I think this is unfair, not on the Nazis obviously, but on … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector | Tagged , | 4 Comments

What goes all the way down?

Ho, ho, ho! But stop! This can be very serious indeed. Ever asked someone why something is being done, and they’ve replied by pointing to something somewhere else, some plan? They’re just turtles too! No, it doesn’t happen. But people pretend … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lazy managers make hungry children

Managers working in the public sector are starving poor people because they are too lazy to bother picking up a book. Yes, I said that. The above graph shows the reasons why people are turning to food banks because they … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, learning, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Charlie Watts Paradigm

You walk into a pub and ask the barman… And he says… You’d be annoyed and amazed. And you’d remain thirsty. How likely is that? Well, remember when I decided to buy a bike? Remember this man? ‘Course you do, and … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | 3 Comments

6 things Local Government gets wrong about you

1: It thinks you care most about big projects Name several things you care about your Council doing right. It might be making sure the roads aren’t full of pot-holes. Or keeping your street free of litter and graffiti. Perhaps … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, leadership, public sector, thinking | 1 Comment

One of these is unnecessary

The one on the left is an ice-cream Battenburg cake. The one on the right is an actual Battenburg cake. They both have pink and yellow bits, and are encased in sponge. Surely one of them is unnecessary, can you … Continue reading

Posted in communication, customer, psychology, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | Leave a comment

Goodbye ICT, you’re already dead

There was a ruckus earlier between me and ICT. There was an “engagement exercise” where they came to my floor on a specific day and time, for us to “see how they work” and for them to give us “tips … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, inspection, public sector, thinking | Tagged , | 38 Comments

How to start a library of dead ideas

A great big Nazi bomb couldn’t scare these gents off their knowledge. But you wouldn’t need a bomb in most organisations. Not because people don’t like knowledge, but because you need a memory to have knowledge.  Memory and knowledge aren’t about memorising lists of facts, like … Continue reading

Posted in data, information, learning, me doing it, public sector | Tagged , | Leave a comment

5 harsh truths you’ll wish you’d learnt earlier

Entirely understandable but…epic fail. No need to give up your own thoughts and copy everyone else’s! Inspired by this, and copying this virtually to the letter, here are “5 harsh truths you need to learn so you can live with your … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged | 2 Comments