SMART Pudding?

The Business Process Management Life-Cycle

Image via Wikipedia

Following on from my Keep Calm post of a few days ago, where I mentioned the Linkedin Police Debate Group, a forum discussing Government proposals on police reform in the UK… 

Have you noticed how many managers (particularly within the public sector) have a propensity for over complicating issues? 

They litter their reports and conversations with (they believe) the latest management speak buzzwords. They continually pause to search their business mind (clogged up mass of tripe), to find the appropriate SMART and PC words to use and whilst doing so, often miss the whole bloody point you were raising in the first place! 

Friends working in the private sector, assure me this type of written or verbal crud is sharply on the decline in their working environments… Trust the public sector to lag behind. 🙂 

Any way less of the digression and more of the point… I have suggested to the forum (see below) that one of the major issues that (1) actually led to the need for change and (2) is likely to thwart that need for the same reasons is, ‘complication’. By this I mean there is often over complication of proposed solutions to simple problems. This process appears to be inherent throughout the public sector administrative machine, it is what has kept many people feeling very important for many years, and actually in work in many cases!  

Are the reform/change issues simple or complicated? 

I am fully aware that some members of this forum have consider several of my views to be ‘somewhat simplistic’ and, I have also been accused of being ‘anecdotal’ or failing to provide ‘evidence’ for my ‘argument’. 

Perhaps I would do better if I could actually present my view in a more academically biased form however, as I have touched on before, 30yrs hands on experience and observation, should also be accepted as ‘evidence’ of knowledge. 

Therefore to evidence my simplistic approach I offer the following… 

I think we all accept that in many ways, our society is also ‘simplistic’ in their expectations of the police service. They may not always be justifiable expectations which is often a fault of the service, along with the media, politicians and Senior Officers, however simplistic all the same. 

When Mrs Miggins contacts the police with a problem (be it within the police remit or not), she wants to know that she will get a response, she wants to know how expedient that response will be and importantly, what will be the likely resolution, if any… Simple! 

Some years ago, UNISON who represent the majority of police staff (administrators), called for three days of strike action. A large majority of the staff in my force, although not indicative of more militant areas, joined the dispute and withdrew their labour. Did the policing function stop? No it didn’t? Was the policing function any less productive or efficient? Only marginally. Did the public requirement for policing services change in that three-day period? Not a bit of it? Were public expectations of the service any different whilst all the support functions were having a few days off? Certainly not. Did the bad guys still get arrested and processed? Of course. 

We are all aware how the service has become almost totally reliant upon IT systems. So why when those systems (due to catastrophic software or electrical failure) are unavailable, sometimes for periods approaching days as opposed to hours, can the service still function? 

I fully understand the need to present well thought out and methodical actions supported by evidence to drive forward change. What I find difficult to comprehend is the propensity for over egging the pudding. Why continually look for complicated answers to what is often a simple problem? 

To continually over complicate issues often does little more for an organisation than self-promotion for individuals involved in its management process, at least in their eyes. 

Over egging the pudding isn’t SMART… 

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 07-09-2010, in Police, Public Service Babble and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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