Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html en-gb 30 Mon 14 Jul 2014 08:35:42 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html tuckerhillgang http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=98#comment59 Interesting article. Take a look at the drive to use contact centres as a way of making councils more efficient, and customer focused. Then reflect upon the reality that if you look at their true performance a huge volume, as high as 70%, of the contact made by citizens is following up on failure and unmet promises for service. Google John Seddon and systems thinking. It will make you think! Wed 28 Oct 2009 22:31:04 GMT+1 SystemsThinking http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=96#comment58 In my experience targets in a service environment always create worse customer service and demotivate staff.Command & Control management is destroying our ability to absorb the variety of demands that customers place upon out organisations. As proven time & time again targets cause dysfunctional behaviour just look at the GP example in the article - you just can't make this stuff up. Don't blame the staff that cheat to make the target its not their fault. Tue 27 Oct 2009 19:56:22 GMT+1 Wrinklyoldgit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=95#comment57 If one looks at the charge and conviction rates for the older UK citizenry and retired persons, it is alarming to find a 50% increase in the last decade in police actions and subsequent convictions, as in this target driven police state each conviction for minor offences normally only receiving a reprimand now being statistically treated the same as getting a murder conviction or rape conviction, so the police can boast of being proactive and meeting NuLabour "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" political spin statistics - aka known by bovine terms not allowed on the BBC. Tue 27 Oct 2009 13:45:24 GMT+1 NutitanicPassenger http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=93#comment56 Things will never improve unless we try something completely different, the Zeitgeist movement has the only ideas that make any sense and I recommend everyone to at least research what it's all about. Fri 23 Oct 2009 11:14:41 GMT+1 AJS http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=91#comment55 JadedJean is a computer program and I claim my £5 prize. Thu 22 Oct 2009 17:51:37 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=90#comment54 ajs_dy (#54) "The box-ticking culture in public services is born from the same ideas as the testing-obsessed culture in education already mentioned elsewhere on this blog (and which, arguably, is merely a subset of the same condition).Instead of measuring performance properly (which would be very difficult), a facile method is employed based on something that would ordinarily be a rough indicator of performance."Did you go to the University of NefariousRhetoric? Surely you could have used some euphemised scatological terms instead of the highlighted words above? ;-) Thu 22 Oct 2009 16:03:58 GMT+1 AJS http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=88#comment53 The box-ticking culture in public services is born from the same ideas as the testing-obsessed culture in education already mentioned elsewhere on this blog (and which, arguably, is merely a subset of the same condition).Instead of measuring performance properly (which would be very difficult), a facile method is employed based on something that would ordinarily be a rough indicator of performance.However, once those under scrutiny are aware of how their performance is being measured, they learn to take advantage of the measurement methods. So, for instance, we get doctors treating the least-serious patients first. Although this shortens average waiting times, it means that the most serious cases (which will take longer to process) get seen last. But this is not a measured statistic, so everyone is happy -- except the patients whose care was neglected for the sake of making the doctor's figures look better! Meanwhile, those who retain some integrity and treat patients in order of need end up with longer average waiting times and get told to work harder, and no, there's no more money available. Thu 22 Oct 2009 14:02:38 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=86#comment52 stanilic (#50) You are not as bright as you like to think you are. Please take the implications of this on board. Thu 22 Oct 2009 13:47:25 GMT+1 newSweetMonkey2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=85#comment51 Personally I don't really care about number crunching in the Civil Service - it doesn't even bother me in most areas, except the NHS.When it comes to health you cannot use this method. We are dealing with people and their health should come first. Bidding for the cheapest cleaning company and finding out 2 years down the line the hospitals are riddled with bugs is unacceptable. This is where Mrs. Thatcher's utopian view of market driven, cost cutting enterprise fell down. With profit comes a price. Health is too high a price to pay.It's about time people in authority realised that share holders, profit making schemes and money isn't what drives the majority of people.Empathy, kindness and being listened to by the government and having the power to change things that are just plain wrong is what most people want. Thu 22 Oct 2009 13:03:28 GMT+1 SSnotbanned http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=83#comment50 'Unintended consequences' are just an excuse for people who didn't think through their action(s)...the foolocracy remains. Thu 22 Oct 2009 12:37:28 GMT+1 stanilic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=81#comment49 Message 44 JadedJeanYou have got the mirror out again abusing people for contradicting your own perception of reality. I am sorry that you find yourself unable to discuss or develop the points in our earlier conversation.I have to advise that I have two relatives who are senior officers in the Civil Service, I also work in close contact with at least three departments of the Civil Service. I hold all my contacts in the Service in great regard, respect their professional expertise and value their work. I am very sympathetic to the view that this government in politicising the Service has abused both the institution and caused individual Civil Servants great stress and misery. The fact that your comment then runs into another of your puerile rants about anarchists, final agendas, the European Union, dysgenesis, Muslims, Mao and Stalin suggests that it was all just a further opportunity for rhetorical irrigation. For me it is a dismal tragedy watching an intelligent person making a complete fool of themselves. I should laugh but I actually feel pity for you.Your problem with me is that you are attacking an image in your own head and not the real person. I accept I have a philosophical perspective which is at odds with yours. But I do not follow it as a dogma, it is the way I look at the world, at life and society. In order to get by in life you have to make compromises with other people, work with them despite any differences, rejoice at the good times and feel pain at the bad. Life and knowledge come in many sounds and colours and its to be enjoyed. My dislike for the state comes from the fact that it engenders people such as you who want to impose your colour and your sound to the exclusion of all else. Sorry, my dear, but you are wrong in so many ways. I suggest that if you do accept this as your problem and not a problem for everyone else you will find you have gone a long way to resolving the issues which obviously limit and frustrate you. It is your choice. Good day to you. Thu 22 Oct 2009 12:03:53 GMT+1 stanblogger http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=80#comment48 "How does a health secretary ensure that patients get a decent experience at the GP's surgery in Pontefract or Padstow? How does a home secretary make sure officers in Shropshire and Sheffield take neighbourhood policing seriously?"What was wrong with the traditional way?A member of the public could write to the local MP (very easy nowadays by email), who could take the matter up with the Minister or in the House if there was no satisfactory answer.This method was weakened by the delegation of most things to agencies, local health boards etc. So while some MPs still insist on writing to the Minister, letters are usually automatically referred to the agency or to the other body to which the function has been delegated. This change was introduced by Mrs Thachter's government and was trumpeted as a means of giving people more control. The truth probably is that it was introduced to remove the inconvenience and expense of having the Ministries look into these matters.When they came into office, like many things they had opposed in opposition, Labour found it convenient to retain this arrangement.The truth is that to monitor things properly at the center, it is more important to listen to the complaints of members of the public, than to simply collect reams of printouts of returns from hospitals etc. This would mean more expense at the center, but the time spent filling in returns, and the number of administrators, at the periphery, could be reduced. Thu 22 Oct 2009 12:03:23 GMT+1 politicallyincorrect http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=78#comment47 #20 - Angel_in_Transit wrote:"Work in a call centre as a customer service representative and you are expected to deal with a call in "x time". There is absolutely no commitment to solving the customer's query because that cannot be quantified in "time", "x" or no "x". A society that has no initiative allowed because it relies on targets is one that has lost its way - completely."But why should that have occurred? Do call centres exist purely as money soaks to turn people into robots?Of course they don't. They're supposed to be there to help the firm's customers. Your comment is a perfect illustration of the effect of the professional manager. I've long held a theory that a lot of the blight that affects the Western world can be laid at the door of people with an attitude problem, an MBA and nothing else. No trade, no profession other than some management theory.It's got so bad now that management is seen as a raison d'etre in its own right, rather than a necessary overhead. To take your call centre example a little further, it's quite likely that the most knowledgeable people in the place would be frequently hammered by their so-called management for poor stats. Now, anyone with half a brain will know that the experienced people tend to be given the awkward calls - the difficult problems, the technically advanced issues, the awkward customers - all of which take longer to deal with properly than someone who might just have a quick question. But that category often excludes management. If team A has handled 400 calls in one hour and team B - full of experts - has handled just 50, it's obvious that team B is slacking. Obvious until you dig deeper and find that Team B was handling the tricky calls. But Excel spreadsheets and graphs don't go that far.It's not a problem that's confined to call centre management. I work in IT, and the number of able managers I've known has been sadly outweighed by the hordes of drones who hide behind acronyms they don't understand. mixed in with irritating management speak about singing from the same hymn sheet.Maybe one day we'll see a political party banning the employment of managers who don't have a skill in addition to their MBA. But I doubt it somehow :-) Thu 22 Oct 2009 12:01:24 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=76#comment46 stanilic (#41) Do you have any idea how rigorous administrative Civil Servant selection, annual staff reporting and promotion system used to be? Not only did candidates need a top class degree in the days when only 5% or so of the population even went to university, but on top of that there were tough exams and interviews.What Thatcher and co did (Keith Joseph really) was anarchistic. That's a fact. Thu 22 Oct 2009 11:42:20 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=75#comment45 Tigerjayj (#45) "You don't know me, have no right to prejudge me or indeed others."I don't need or want to know you. It nay have escaped your notice, but you are anonymous. One presumes you were not give the name 'Tigerjayj' at birth!What is being criticised is not you but your posts. The sentences that you post for public appraisal. You are clearly so self-centered (narcissistic) that you can not see this. I am drawing this to your, and other people's, attention. It is a healthy thing to do. Try to act upon it. What is the point of posting otherwise? Thu 22 Oct 2009 09:57:35 GMT+1 Jen http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=73#comment44 Jaded JeanI feel really sorry for you-you can't be courteous to others at all, preferring instead to wrap insults in big words.Your response suggests that you have no qualifications in all the fields for which you claim such in depth knowledge.You don't know me, have no right to pre-judge me or indeed others. You are obviously incapable of posting your view without trying to sound like an expert.If you think everyone is an anarchist then just say so. It's not clever, just typical bully behaviour. Thu 22 Oct 2009 09:38:23 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=71#comment43 stanilic (#41) "It is totally erroneous to speak of an `Honour Code' in the Civil Service"You literally don't know what you are talking about. This is accurate feedback. It's why I am so critical of so many of your posts. You have a penchant for making up stories and believing them. You must learn to describe reality as it is. That is much harder than story telling. You confuse the stories you earnestly believe with reality. Reality doesn't sell as well (see Harry Potter books and media vs science). But reality is what matters. The Civil Service, was/is the instrument of state governance and has been under systematic attack for over 30 years. This is in aid of anarchism, aka libertarian free-market privatization - liberalism. Many duty bound Civil Servants have thus had to effectively self-destruct because of the incumbents ov rthe past 30 years. Opposition parties are much the same. I am not 100% sure what the final agenda is. It may be The Greater EU. That is my best case scenario. I am not sure at all that this is the csse though, as the Lisbon Treaty appears to be anarchistic, especially looking through the 53 Article FCHR.Freedom from regulation is a nonsense. See economy. See crime rate. See dysgenesis. See pointless ars against all the odds. 1.4 billion (statist) Muslims and growing. 700 million Europeans and shrinking. Iran's revolutionary guru Shariati was well versed in Sartre - in his Maoist/Stalinist guise!I am telling you how it is. I am sorry if it is unfamiliar/unacceptable. Thu 22 Oct 2009 09:28:32 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=70#comment42 Tigerjayj (#39) "Jaded jean-I still await your multiple qualifications with great interest given the amount of 'information' you peddle throughout the BBC blogospere"You're going to be waiting a long time. I use behaviour like yours to illustrate, by elicited example, a major behavioural problem which we now collectively face on a larger scale. Your behaviour is a useful instantiation of narcissstic entitlement and (sometimes, in others, narcissistic rage). This is, in my view, fundamental to our current anrchistic (libertarian) culture. It is literally destroying us demographically, and economically. Target setting is not the problem. Dysgenesis is.Look up negative reinforcement. Thu 22 Oct 2009 08:42:27 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=68#comment41 DON'T BLAME THE TOOLS, BLAME NOT ENOUGH ARTISANSatrrisse (#38) "I've been involved with systems where the targets/objectives are a joke, foisted onto staff in situations where they have no control over demand. (In a bank, staff targeted to do 'so-many' mortgage deals in a month - stupid when the mortgage market is unpredictable from one month to the next.) Another was giving people objectives over which they had no control at all, certainly with no authority to affect the outcome."Yes, there are countless examples of bad management, but this is something quite separate form the value of targets per se. Targets are just statistical indices which management have to use in order to 'effectively' (technical term) to run organizations. In Public Service these might be measures of ward cleanliness, time to get an ambulance/fire-engine to a destination (ceteris paribus). It's just management. We have, however, had lots of band managers. That's down to dysgenic and differential fertility as I have set out in detail elsewhere. It's down to not enough smart people because of the birth rate. Thu 22 Oct 2009 08:36:04 GMT+1 stanilic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=66#comment40 Message 36 JadedJeanPeople tended to join the Civil Service as it was regular, steady work, not well-remunerated but pensionable. It is totally erroneous to speak of an `Honour Code' in the Civil Service, however there are standards concerning how the individual civil servant is expected to behave in their relations with the general public. One of those is not to be specific about your job other than to say that you are a Civil Servant. So I think you argument about a `Party' feel, whatever that means so I am guessing, is overtated.The great problem today is the Civil Service has been politicised by the target culture. You point the finger at Margaret Thatcher but in this she was a pussy-cat compared with the present government which set out to destroy the Civil Service. In that, they have failed although they have damaged morale and confidence no end. I hope that normal, professional service will be resumed as soon as possible.There is a confusion in the public mind, and seemingly yours, between working in the Civil Service as to working in the public services. The Civil Service is part of the executive arm of government and whilst it does interconnect at the higher policy levels of the public services, the Civil Service is about the functioning of government and not the provision of public services.Public services such as the health service, refuse collection, roads and so on fall outside the direct remit of the Civil Service which is why a lot of these have over the years been farmed out to quangoes and local authorities. I would agree that the Civil Service should not be running public services: the management culture just does not fit. It is in the public services where the funny salaries, the weird targets and the over-zealous regulators have blossomed on the back of bloated payments of taxpayer funds from the lunatics in the modern political class. This is why these functions should be `localised' or rather brought under local, democratic management. A portion of what they do is irrelevant whilst the rest can be much improved. Thu 22 Oct 2009 08:34:57 GMT+1 clamdip lobster claws http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=65#comment39 Dear Jadedjean,People hurt and put down others when they're in a lot of emotional pain. I think you're really smart and have a lot to say but its not necessary to put down others to get your point across. When you put others down as vehemently as you do, it turns people off and then they shut down and your good points gets lost. Try to be a little kinder and I'm sure people will meet you half way. Thu 22 Oct 2009 03:22:26 GMT+1 Jen http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=63#comment38 Jaded jean-I still await your multiple qualifications with great interest given the amount of 'information' you peddle throughout the BBC blogospere. Others have also asked you for these, and what job you do. Until you are able to do more than regurgitate book titles and web addresses and be spiteful and abusive to others, don't bother posting. Blogs are for civil discussions, not verbal assaults on people you can't possibly know. You are arrogant in the extreme. We are all able to look up books and websites if we choose-we are not the stupid idiots you like to call usFour targets for you:1. Cease and desist all manner of abusive comment directed at other bloggers2. Be courteous to other bloggers who don't share your opinions3. Cease all use of books and web links as a means to justify your statements4. Have the courtesy to answer questions asked of you, instead of launching into a stream of invective directed at the inquisitor.Most of us don't need to use such absurd means to hold a conversation. Wed 21 Oct 2009 23:42:25 GMT+1 Doctor Bob http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=61#comment37 It's so despairing that few people in controlling positions yet realise that targets attempting to measure degrees of success/failure are almost ALWAYS dodgy especially in service industries. It's pretty inevitable that people will work to achieve the targets at the expense of giving a service. They'll soon learn the easiest routes to the targets which inevitably means attending to the quick and easy first. Do these bosses really need a Philadelphia lawyer to tell them that simple truth.Well, the Consultants won't tell them. Their continued employment depends on ensuring there're always things that management don't realise.It started about 50 years ago with Management by Objectives. The problem was soon discovered even when work could easily be measured. With fields like education, health and policing, measuring average units of work with any accuracy is impossible especially if the hope is to apply targets across the whole country. I mean, what is an average police arrest? Most of these government targets, I'll bet, are plain guesswork tempered by a little faith.I've been involved with systems where the targets/objectives are a joke, foisted onto staff in situations where they have no control over demand. (In a bank, staff targeted to do 'so-many' mortgage deals in a month - stupid when the mortgage market is unpredictable from one month to the next.) Another was giving people objectives over which they had no control at all, certainly with no authority to affect the outcome. Thus, for example, in said bank lending targets were built into the objectives of the IT staff. And you'd be hard-pushed to believe the effort that went into the objectives "industry".Worse, it leads to pervasive bureaucracy in the true sense. Inspection has to be resolved as procedures so that (ideally) any postholder so qualified can do the job. That leads to procedures among the inspected, so they can be sure they are meeting inspection criteria where possible. It leads to hierarchies and vertical communication with attendant co-ordination problems. Just look at Social Services, for example. Almost all paperwork/procedure is backside covering. "Have we followed the procedure correctly?" (Yes) "Good, then we're covered." Wed 21 Oct 2009 20:01:49 GMT+1 kaybraes http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=60#comment36 The biggest trouble with all of the public sector organisations, health service, social work,civil service, and all government ministries is that no one will say, like Alan Sugar, " You are not doing your job properly, you're fired ". Instead the law of sideways promotion applies and the useless end up on the same salary in a non job, where nobody bothers them and they bother no one. Wed 21 Oct 2009 18:16:21 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=58#comment35 stanilic (#34) "I find the privatisation of public services a bit strange for the simple reason that if a private company can do the same job and make a profit, why can't the government do it for less?"There is a fundamental difference but many seem to have become oblivious to this. Public Services are not run for profit, but a) as Public Services to the people, and b) to provide employment. One can't judge them by the same standards as private businesses, certainly not in terms of profitability. However, Mandelson treie dto do just this the other day in the Lords when he said that Royal Mail only made 1% profit! This is how New Labour and the other libertarian parties have egregiously played the state-busting game. Many people used to join the Public Services because they had a genuine sense of public duty - for that, they were effectively given a job for life so long as they upheld that code and did the job s their job description demanded. The Civil Service used to have an Honour Code/Code of Conduct etc which had a Party feel to it - which in my view is no coincidence as the Soviet system was much the same. Thatcher began putting an end to this in the earlry 80s, but the USA had been doing it for years before. Wed 21 Oct 2009 18:04:10 GMT+1 tedyeoman http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=56#comment34 Localism = Post Code lottery ... bad public image there tooIsn't it a pity that the political parties have already destroyed the concept with the language used in the past. The chance of it being allowed to succeed by the press and public is now so slim... Just one letter to the papers "my friend in .... gets.... I was told I can't have it's like some unfair post code lottery!" and localism is dead. Wed 21 Oct 2009 17:31:32 GMT+1 stanilic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=55#comment33 JadedJean Message 32Do targets work well for Goldman Sachs? I really have no idea as I am not familiar with their management arrangements. Perhaps you have some idea and wish to enlighten us? I think they are very foolish and greedy people so wrapped up in themselves that they are oblivious to the anger they are causing. I rather liked the remark that Goldman Sachs are a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity: but I doubt if you read The Rolling Stone (good paper: I used to distribute it) I have referred to bankers elsewhere today as Bourbons. I trust you can understand that simile.Targets have crippled public services and I am pleased there is at least something we can agree on: isn't human solidarity comforting? But this has nothing to do with privatisation and ethnic groups. I find the privatisation of public services a bit strange for the simple reason that if a private company can do the same job and make a profit, why can't the government do it for less? No doubt there is a view that competition helps to keeps costs down: yet all it seems to do is keep wages down.With regard to your obvious passion about ethnicity I have advised you before that this can easily become simple scapegoating which avoids focussing on the real issues. It is the real issues that matter.It has been nice having a civilised chat with you, for a change. Good evening. Wed 21 Oct 2009 17:12:49 GMT+1 Harrietm20 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=53#comment32 i think their targets should be lists of things they promise not to do again! Wed 21 Oct 2009 16:42:58 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=51#comment31 stanilic (#31) "The tragedy with the target culture is that in 1998 the government of the day was warned that it would not work and it hasn't."Targets seem to work very well for Goldman Sachs etc!Targets in Public Services are used to cripple, i.e help privatise Public Services. Look up the recruitment targets by ethnicity across Public Services. They are designed to reflect the local population regardless of the ability of the ethnic group! This is designed to make services fail..... Wed 21 Oct 2009 16:41:08 GMT+1 stanilic http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=50#comment30 The tragedy with the target culture is that in 1998 the government of the day was warned that it would not work and it hasn't. The instances you draw on are what is known as What Gets Measured Gets Done or WGMGD. In other words if you set targets then the person required to meet the target will do so regardless of whatever other factors are disregarded. It is just like bankers and bonuses. It is one of the things wrong with the prevailing management culture in this country.We need to return to a concept of professionalism, accepted standards, recognised behaviour and reasonable measurement that does not intimidate, does not penalise but encourages and facilitates. For such methodology to work there needs to be an enhanced culture of team-work, more supporting networks and much less hierarchy. The target culture is a culture of hierarchy, apparatchiks, obedience and conformity. It has no imagination, no self-critical capabilities and a total inability to accept that it has done wrong. Sounds familiar; doesn't it? I have long argued against the centralised state. My biggest criticism of Margaret Thatcher was that she aided and abetted the greater centralisation of political power in the UK. Blair followed on with exactly the same principle except with a target driven culture instead of a market driven culture. Too much dogma in both instances.Public services cannot be run as markets and neither can they be run centrally by targets. To work they need to be integrated into the local community, to be part of that community with reference points available to that community. To my mind the state should limit itself to borders, the military, some police functions and the courts. Everything else should return to the locality: the county council, the borough and even the parish. Democracy might even work then. Wed 21 Oct 2009 16:09:48 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=48#comment29 HEGEMONY 101Addendum (#29) Next look at the demography of NYC (#5) and then London. Does anyone see the pattern bearing mind mind mean IQ differences by group? Wed 21 Oct 2009 14:25:06 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=46#comment28 California - Try Mexico here, and for NYC try Poland/Russia. Wed 21 Oct 2009 13:50:00 GMT+1 pandatank http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=45#comment27 Inefficiencies and waste in public spending has as it's main root cause, the budgetary control practices of Treasury. Departments are given a yearly allocation by Treasury. Other drivers encouraging value for money are then employedwithin the Department causing "underspend" for most of the year. Just after New Year, this underspend becomes apparent and the Department then goes on a "spending spree". It is forced to do this because treasury will take back the underspend and also reduce the following years budget accordingly. This financially penalises any Department actually giving Value forMoney or cutting costs through efficiency. The post Xmas Spending rush also creates a climate where the driver is to spend this excess money (or lose it) irrespective of need, value or appropriateness. The spend on projects also needs to ensure that these projects are completed before 1st April which again tends to inflate the costs. This also parallels the way work is done in a nationalised industry. Workers within the industry are paid a wage (irrespective of the work done or time taken) Their performance is measured by them achieving the rates allocated for the job. Finishing early is "rewarded" by being allocated more work to do. Often contractors are brought in who are allocated a unit price for completing a project. The saving to the industry comesfrom the contractor completing a project in a day and half that would take the nationalised industry worker 3 days. The NI worker couldalso achieve the same rate of completion, but there's no reward for doing so and overtime adds to the cost of the project so is generallydiscouraged. It should be noted that the driver on the contractor is the speed to complete the project, so the temptation to cut cornerswherever you can is great. Safety and quality are usually the first victims of this policy. It is these "efficiencies" which are usually held up as justification for privatisation. The true costs to the public are only realised years later often too late to rectify. Wed 21 Oct 2009 13:09:47 GMT+1 Breakfast-Maker http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=43#comment26 Poster 4 has it about right. Until the thousands of 'Brown jobsworths' are got rid of there will always be a huge incentive to maintain the status quo.Proper accountability would go some way to addressing this culture but it's all to easy to blame the 'system' (see MP's expenses) than to stand up and take the rap.Politicins by definition are in it for the power, so giving it away is totally against the reason for them doing the job in the first place. Anyone who believes politicians verbal diarrhoea about improving the country, lot of the common man, saving babies etc etc is too naive to deserve a vote. Wed 21 Oct 2009 12:51:18 GMT+1 clamdip lobster claws http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=41#comment25 Community Criminal,You'll have to move to California because the FEDS have announced that they won't be prosecuting "legitimate" medical marijuana dispensaries.The next step will probably be to tax it to pay for California's looming deficit. It's the collusion and intersection of mafia drug lords with the government. So what's really changed? They're just legitimizing them now. Wed 21 Oct 2009 11:36:52 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=40#comment24 Angel_in_Transit (#24) Here's a very useful tip in life. When you are told something by someone who knows more about a subject than you do, try to be grateful and show it. When you are told that you are writing nonsense, try to take the feedback graciously, reconsider what you have written/said, and try to learn from the criticism. If you find your first response is just to defend what you already think or have said, or just abuse the messenger, even though you have been told it is nonsense, the chances that you will just ocntinue to write and think nonsensically.Look up Dawes, Faust and Meehl (1989) and some of Groves papers since. Human intuitive (aka clinical) judgement is second rate/hand actuarial judgement. When you go to a doctor s/he is looking at you actuarially. This is the basis of target setting and evidence based practice. We have a major problem (see Leitch Review 2006) with the population, as does the USA, and it's genetic. Until you have grasped this, don't post a response/hissy-fit. Wed 21 Oct 2009 11:22:00 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=38#comment23 #22The problem with you jadedjean is you wouldn't know rubbish if it ate you for breakfast (which it no doubt has on numerous occasions).Now if you'd like to respond intelligently, please do so. Otherwise do the other thing with my full permission. Wed 21 Oct 2009 10:27:09 GMT+1 delminister http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=36#comment22 i pitty the fools who fall for political party spin, never has any party wanting power upheld all its pledges and more recent governments have gone against their pledges.this is a case of trust and these parties are untrustworthy, if a party makes a pledge they should be duty bound to fulfill it or be held in contempt of those that voted for them, this should be enough to recall the party and hold new elections. Wed 21 Oct 2009 10:20:47 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=35#comment21 Angel_in_Transit (#20) Please try not to post rubbish. Wed 21 Oct 2009 09:45:12 GMT+1 barry white http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=33#comment20 Ah accountants and what is happening. A bit of a misleading statement if ever. Along with health service managers. I do know that a professional audit of the money in a function or business is essential but, as my old boss told me, the accountants are only a tool of business, in themselves they should never run one. Maybe the parties who look after the election to be made up of totally different people should look how things are run not setting targets to get in the way of how they are run. Wed 21 Oct 2009 09:12:01 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=31#comment19 @16 jon112ukI agree with much of this. Auditing had always taken place in public and private sectors and was, as you say, conducted by people who "knew" the business. The "fiddles" utilised under "target style practice" would result in dismissals (instant) in both sectors.@18 jadedjeanTargets=Management? I am afraid they do not. Any given process requires time and expertise unless entrusted to a machine where it becomes time and efficiency. Human beings vary greatly in "expertise", as they do in "experience" and as they do because of their in-built biological variables (on a minute by minute basis). A manager is required to "judge" others whilst having these same variables present. A "good" manager is able to be effective because they are trusted by their subordinates and have "latitude" (or initiative) built into their management tasks. Replace their task with facts and figures and you have what? A mess.What we have in society are many, many people twisting the wool around the eyes of others who are twisting the wool etc etc etc. Trust and respect have vanished into the vacuum that was once human interaction.Work in a call centre as a customer service representative and you are expected to deal with a call in "x time". There is absolutely no commitment to solving the customer's query because that cannot be quantified in "time", "x" or no "x". A society that has no initiative allowed because it relies on targets is one that has lost its way - completely. Wed 21 Oct 2009 08:34:47 GMT+1 cping500 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=30#comment18 I can well remember the local eye hospital in the 1990's which twice offered me appointments with a SIX month wait. And A&E where I spent the whole day waiting. I recall also waiting three months to arrange a diagnostic procedure on my knee. For the latter I arranged the resultant surgery to fit my work commitments which you can still do. It is not true that you can't complain effectively about the NHS. You can both privately (with legal back up and compensation) and publicly on a website which welcomes complaints and plaudits.There remain a lot of issue in the services offered by Primary Care Trusts whose performance in very patchy (including GPs)More recently there have been many complaints about customer care issues and particularly nursing (but not from me since I take a car servicing approach to the NHS and I expect the same level of results :-)) . There are no targets for this!!! Wed 21 Oct 2009 08:25:19 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=28#comment17 TARGETS VS INTENSIONSThe target culture is a direct transcription from evidence based practice aka science. It is just effective (in the technical sense) management. We now do things using computers. To deal with matters they have to be classified. This requires a decision. The analysis of data aka evidence is a logically (programming) based process.The problem is not functions and targets. The problem is the choice of functions and targets. These are not always (or even usually) identified by people who know what they are referring to, or more importantly, what those closer to the coal-face, will take them to be. If the measures can be automated by sensors than people, the system would work better.We can not dispense with the target culture. We depend on it. The problem is people and their intensional psychology.File under Clinical vs Actuarial judgemnet and effective processes.... ;-) Wed 21 Oct 2009 08:06:37 GMT+1 watriler http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=26#comment16 Mark is sounding the death knell of new labour - third way ideaology. Unfortunately we are now saddled with a new breed of public sector managers who find it difficult to think out this box. The only answer I can think of is to devolve genuine power and budgets to local government (who yes are affected by NL ideaology) and local communities and create powerful user groups who can make their voice heard about the performance of public services - bit weak isn't this! Wed 21 Oct 2009 08:04:17 GMT+1 jon112uk http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=25#comment15 Prior to the target culture there was still an inspection regime in the public sector.Somebody would visit you and inspect. A report was produced.What was different? The 'targets' weren't explicitly stated in advance. Managers had to perform accross the board. If people waited too long in A&E and complained, this would be criticised. But if managers left people in the ambulances outside to fiddle this, then that action would be criticised. High professional standards were expected.To do that kind of inspection and report the inspectors needed to be professionals themselves - they had to know what to look for and what was unacceptable. Nowadays the professionals (experienced doctors, nurses etc) have been replaced by 'lay' persons. They have no professional knowledge and can only check if boxes have been ticked. Locally an NHS trust got good marks for financial governance. It ticked all the boxes for policies, audit, contracts etc. The same trust has a recruitment freeze and is shutting services because (despite record health spending) it has no money. Performance is poor but the boxes were ticked.The current fiasco is as much to do with labour's hostility to professional people as it is to do with targets. Wed 21 Oct 2009 07:49:22 GMT+1 Angel_in_Transit http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=23#comment14 "market-style mechanisms"Sounds impressive doesn't it? But what does it mean, if anything?A dissatisfied customer in the private sector will attempt to get their money back or faulty goods replaced. If they fail they can use "trading standards" legislation to obtain their money and compensation. None of that has ever existed in the public sector even within the contracted and sub-contracted sectors. What has existed is the use of "penalties". Now a "penalty (or even several penalties)" may be factored into the business model upon which a tender is made, and the company does simple arithmetic to deduce whether it is better to ignore a penalty, avoid a given penalty or rectify the missing or erroneous work. Hardly getting your money back if you are the customer...We have seen how this goes "forever" wrong in the NHS with its cleaning contracts that pay cleaners a pittance whilst requiring them to exceed human limits in completing a task. The various horrible infections are what the customer gets here, penalties or no penalties.Even in procurement there are "preferred" suppliers who will sell the government a product (in massive quantities) at way above the market price with no better protection or terms than any other supplier. Here the customer is overcharged.There are IT contracts which do not deliver and just go on and on and on, with the customer shelling out for absolutely nothing in return.So "market-style mechanisms" also known as targets work do they? Sellers have targets; buyers have the need for satisfaction. Wed 21 Oct 2009 07:36:00 GMT+1 dennisjunior1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=21#comment13 Mark,I think it is on the correct road...And, what willthe target is?~Dennis Junior~ Wed 21 Oct 2009 01:50:28 GMT+1 tarquin http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=20#comment12 A good analysis of the problem, Mark, But I don't think you have been cynical enough - the parties may now advocate 'localism' but that doesn't mean we've 'passed a high-water mark' on the issue, as I doubt politicians have the balls to see it through, for the reasons you stateThe fact is, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't - because centralisation creates bureaucracy, while localism is less accountable to Westminster and unpredictable, the media can make a story out of it either way - we don't have a politician brave enough, or an electorate discerning enough, to make the right decisionFor my money, they're always going to stick to centralisation because as you say, the pressure is on the cabinet ministers to be seen to be doing something, which inevitably leads to central control and fiddling statistics Tue 20 Oct 2009 23:11:36 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=18#comment11 Will we miss the targets?or Are We easy to lie to?orDo they really tell the truth?orYet more whoppers ?orMugs lol ? As Ive said the only point you have made is we a lied to in the start we are lied to in the middle and when the boat is sinking we are lied to further. Spending money to bolster these lies until the bubble bursts and it all becomes public at which point ones hands get washed and its passed back to local level after a failed social experiment. You must be really short on issues or is this the first wooden spoon in the election pot. Tue 20 Oct 2009 23:01:36 GMT+1 MK_Steve http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=16#comment10 Really liked the article Mark.When something is easy to measure (like a target) we over-estimate its importance in the system. For instance we use ‘re-offending rates’ to tell us how effective prisons are, but a far better measure would be 'deterrent rates' (how many people don't commit crime because they are deterred by prison). But these are un-measurable, so we ignore them.Same with other targets; by ignoring important factors in complex systems (because we can’t easily measure them) we end up with rather absurd situations, as you've excellently illustrated. Tue 20 Oct 2009 22:26:29 GMT+1 Euforiater http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=15#comment9 Aah, the old "stop these ridiculous targets" ploy. The real problem here is that the people setting targets are a bunch of bureaucrats that know more about excel spreadsheets than getting a decent job done. Their targets are set by the people above and so on upwards until we get to the politicians, who are the least qualified to have anything to do with the job in question.We've bred a country of "project managers" to set, test and reset targets and measure the performance of "resources" (that's the people that actually do the job, folks).And every political party will promise to "cut bureaucracy" and if they get in will do so in statistics only - by the simple expedient of rebranding a bureaucrat's job to sound like they're doing something useful. It's been going on as long as I can remember.Sir Humphrey really WAS in charge.. Tue 20 Oct 2009 21:59:29 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=13#comment8 I think this sums up everything here.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9RwgP26Ipo Tue 20 Oct 2009 21:17:59 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=11#comment7 This post has been Removed Tue 20 Oct 2009 20:06:25 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=10#comment6 Most folk are focusing on too much detail. Tue 20 Oct 2009 18:56:39 GMT+1 ghostofsichuan http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=8#comment5 There is a difference between elections and governing. My guess is the first action will be to suspend any regulations governing banking and financial services that may have been enacted since the crisis, of course to help the economy. Secondly will be new fees for citizen services and lastly a reduction on buisness and industry taxes, again, to help the economy....this will continue the process of the poor getting poorer while the rich get richer in the governmental tradition of vote buying, of course to help the economy. The Chinese are waiting for the loan request and anticipating surcharges for compensation due for past Opium Wars. Tue 20 Oct 2009 18:56:00 GMT+1 Diversities http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=6#comment4 "How does a health secretary ensure that patients get a decent experience at the GP's surgery in Pontefract or Padstow? How does a home secretary make sure officers in Shropshire and Sheffield take neighbourhood policing seriously?"There has never been, there is not and there is no prospect of a Minister being able to ensure such things. Nobody in the world has a way of doing that. Politicians who put themselves on the hook of trying to do what they cannot do will always look like imcompetent fools. "Advocates of "localism" (and all political parties currently claim to be enthusiasts) suggest that you can measure public-service performance by basic results at the centre and trust local professionals on the ground to work out how to achieve good results. It certainly has its advantages - innovation is more likely to flourish; local problems can get a local solution."Half right. You also have to have local political accountability for local results; and for local choices of priorities. That can and will deliver. Failing national newspapers scratching for postcode lottery stories will only hasten their own demise.The chance of either Tories or Labour actually making the necessary changes seems vanishingly small. Lets hope for a hung Parliament; the LibDems look serious about diong what is needed. Tue 20 Oct 2009 18:05:01 GMT+1 CComment http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=5#comment3 The trouble is that over the last 12 years a whole army of civil servants, co-ordinators, administrators and other assorted useless form-filling jobsworths has created a plethora of monitoring roles associated with these services. And all these people have a vested interest in ensuring that no changes take place. The act of monitoring the systems has become much more important than the systems themselves. Unless and until we remove that dead hand of useless oversight, provision will neither adapt nor improve. Caledonian Comment Tue 20 Oct 2009 17:53:48 GMT+1 sweetsmellofsuccess http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=3#comment2 A good article, Mark, but it is based on the premise that you believe central control will reduce. It is doubtful that either Labour or the Conservatives will actually yield control. To do so would mean standing in front of a microphone and stating that local services are a local matter, and nothing to do with the minister beyond a general strategic direction. No politician in this country is going to do that.What will change is the nature of that central control. Expect to see more use of 'target-by-budget' (targets effectively set through the giving/withdrawal of funding) and 'retrospective control' (using audit/inspection to retrospectively control public services by naming/shaming/criticising those who not only fail to meet targets, but fail to carry out the prescribed processes in the prescribed manner).Not a party political point - either party will be doing this post-2010. Tue 20 Oct 2009 17:12:52 GMT+1 John Ellis http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=1#comment1 As ive said here before the only party getting my vote is one that has a humane drug policy one that stops discriminating people who use other than alcohol. BUT MOST OF ALL ONE THAT WONT LINE DRUG DEALERS POCKETS WITH STUPID LAWS. Tue 20 Oct 2009 17:03:38 GMT+1 JadedJean http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2009/10/will_we_miss_the_targets.html?page=0#comment0 "Margaret Thatcher tried to do it with what was called "New Public Management", using market-style mechanisms to encourage efficiency and innovation, but backed up with a system of performance management and executive control to try and make it work."Margaret Thatcher did it to break up Public Services, i.e the state. Blair and Brown continued this. They don't tell you that, but that is what has been going on. The reason why Functions and Targets don't appear to work is because peole believe the spin. In fact they work very well. They are supposed to cripple public bodies as is Equalities legislation and recruitment targets and Human Rights legislation. See how tat's used to do just that abroad? Tue 20 Oct 2009 16:57:41 GMT+1