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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Seddon for Tsar!

From John Seddon's monthly mailout:

"On being a Tsar

Thanks to all who have signed the Number 10 petition for me to be appointed public-sector ‘Tsar’. A small minority wrote to tell me that ‘Tsar’ was very ‘command and control’. One even described the number 10 petitions as Blair's cynical attempt to siphon off public energy; a fig-leaf of 'democracy' that enables the government's mopping up of dissent.

Well, for those who feel that way, take it easy! Do you think they’ll offer me the job? If they did, would I take it? Only on my terms.

Let me say this for the sake of clarity: ‘Command and control’ is the prevailing logic for organisation design (top-down, functional design etc). It is not about being bossy. In fact many of the best systems thinkers I know are bossy; they are just bossy about the right things. So, if they offered and I accepted, what would I be bossy about?

My manifesto

The first thing this Tsar would do is close down the specifications industry, the armies of people who spend their time creating specifications for public-sector managers’ compliance. This would create two savings: The money it costs to have these people (significant) and the waste caused by complying with their ideas (much larger).

The second would be to rein back the Audit Commission to following the money. No longer would the Audit Commission be able to coerce public-sector managers to comply with their and other specifiers’ dumb, ill-founded and without-evidence requirements. When auditing performance, the inspector will ask only one question: ‘What measures are you using to understand and improve performance’?

The choice of measures and method will be with the local service managers. It will foster innovation rather than compliance. And for the first time we will actually know who is responsible.

So there it is: from compliance to innovation and with more reliable audit to boot! If you want to vote for that (and have not done so already), please vote at: "

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