The exponential growth of turkeys

Failure

Image by PaDumBumPsh via Flickr

I was never very good at mental arithmetic as a kid. I’m probably not much better now but finally I’ve managed to develop some understanding of various mathematical calculations, even if I do usually resort to mechanical methods to arrive at the required answer. Ain’t pooters just brilliant?

I was never really destined to be an Einstein or Professor like Chris Bishop (short attention span at school), but I have always had something of an enquiring mind. The kind that wants to understand why something works or indeed, why it doesn’t. Looking for reasons behind why/when/what/who is a natural quest born out of the theory; for every effect there is a cause. It’s useful as an accident investigator, the car hit the wall but why, the driver was going to fast but why, the brakes had failed but why, etc.

You would think this trait/skill should be inherent in many occupations but in particular within police officers, it appears not so. Today most people only have a quick fix mentality and the managers are no different, if anything they are often worse. We have developed a strange social ethos and business dictate where our drivers are questions such as; This isn’t my problem, is it?  How can I make this someone elses responsibility? What is the least I have to do for an acceptable result? Who can I blame for this? Can I cascade the blame to the lowest level possible? And finally, how can I cover this up if it went wrong or I got it wrong?

Over at the Allcoppedout Blog I can generally find educated guidance that helps me to expand upon an issue, and this one is no different. Incompetence rules…

Policing Beyond The Fairies: My broad thesis for a long time has been, if you like, that ‘incompetence rules’.  The only way to deal with incompetence, personal or organisational, begins in being able to recognise and admit it.  These are skills we generally don’t have.  It may be so bad, that we only start to get to grips with incompetence in war, when we realise our lions are led by donkeys.  If I’m right, we need to look at our society in a very different way, including such matters as what our current education, recruitment, selection and training processes are really achieving.  Many of our ‘answers’ may be major parts of the problem. (Read more)

It is my belief that public sector management incompetence and failures in general and within the police service in particular, are increasing at an alarming rate. The growth of turkeys that don’t vote for Christmas is in fact exponential. I have to say, I arrived at this mathematical conclusion as much by observation as by any scientific calculus however, you can find a wealth of statistical information and figures to support and evidence my conclusion HERE.

(1) Exponential growth (including exponential decay) occurs when the growth rate of a mathematical function is proportional to the function’s current value (Read more). (2) A quantity is growing exponentially if over any fixed period of time the amount of increase divided by the quantity at the start of the period is a fixed multiple. (See exponential growth calculator).

The resultant conclusion is evidenced by many varying factors which unfortunately, are more constant than variable. Probably one of the main ones is the inherent management trait of nepotism, perhaps not so much in the truest definition of the word but certainly, ensuring where possible that only like-minded individuals are recruited to the positions of power. It is far easier to implement (or avoid) unpalatable issues when you don’t face conflict or challenges from your peers. This trait is compounded and furthered by those holding middle management posts, it is unlikely they will present resistance to a hierarchy to which they aspire. After all, yes men/women are far more likely to succeed when they tow the corporate line.

Many of the changes required within the British policing system, due firstly to public service requirements and secondly, the government austerity measures, are almost certainly always destined to failure. Senior managers at ACPO level, supported by middle muppets, are likely to do all they can to preserve their power base, their substantial remuneration packages and their self-interests.

Some would challenge this thinking but I assure you, the only ones that actually do are the ones who are subject of it. This is not the rhetoric of some bitter and gnarled old soak who was overlooked for promotion, there is a wealth of information and evidence to support this thesis in the public domain. The evidence is growing by the day as members of the public (and the service) are girded into action about the disgusting state of our Thin Blue Line.

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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 22-11-2010, in Leadership & Management, Police, Public Service Babble and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. A lot of nails hit on the head here Grumpy. Quite a lovely essay. On a train, moons back, I had a load of management development books on the table. ‘You won’t find the answers in there, Son’ said the grey-haired bloke sitting opposite me in first-class. We went to dinner together – he turned out to be head of management development in a big company. The tale he told was more or less yours in this post. He took a shine to me and invited me to shadow him and do a presentation to his Board. He referred to his job as ‘drawing up a Praetorian Guard of muppets round the CEO’ (not in the board session, of course).

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