Beyond bureaucracy – the urban ascetic perspective

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2009 at 7:55 pm
I loved the talk by Barry Schwartz  summarised in the last post. My only issue  was I felt it didn’t go far enough in terms of advancing practical advice. 
After years of both following and trying to implement rules and procedures relating to race and equality, here’s my contribution.

At the end of the day it’s about effectiveness

Focus on how well someone does their job not just how efficiently they carry out their tasks.

All decent quality reviews consider three dimensions, Efficacy, Efficiency and Effectiveness. It’s typical for bureaucracy to get overly concerned with effectiveness to the detriment of the other two. 

Strategic decisions focus on all three with the greatest focus being on effectiveness.

If you are in an organisation working with or dealing with people (customers, patients, clients etc) then part of your effectiveness will depend on how well you interact with people in your environment.  

This rarely shows up directly in performance figures unless it’s a specific element of a job.  Even then the real importance of personal interactions and responses to true effectiveness is often underestimated. It shouldn’t be.

I think the key is to create more human institutions. This means work built around people rather than abstract job roles. It is not about being less focused on function or skills it simply means being more human centred when considering what’s involved.

Real jobs, for Real People

When someone leaves they create a person shaped hole.  No two people are alike. 

Create job specifications that details what you need and what you would like, then be flexible about how it gets done and consider what unlooked for benefits a new person brings to the table. 

In reality Job roles shrink or grow over time as people and circumstances change.  The focus is always on what the organisation needs now. 

This is not necessarily the same thing as what they had before, even if what they had before worked well. 
New people mean new opportunities and new solutions.

You need to have a person not a calculator making decisions.

Many rules coming down from on high are just that rules that must be obeyed no matter what.
They often ignore common sense and judgement, they were written by people assuming that those carrying them out are either lazy, stupid or both.

If we are going to stop people acting counter to their own common sense and organisational interest we need more courage and more latitude.

9  human rules about rules (well they are really more what you’d call guidelines)

  1. Many rules are written to meet legal constraints, make sure they work towards achieving organisational goals.  
  2. If you are trying to introduce a new rule make sure there is a way to ‘suspend and fix it’ quickly if it proves to be stupid.
  3. Look for reasonable behaviour not set behaviour.
  4. Have strict rules when they are needed but also have guidelines that leave room for manoeuvre. 
  5. It’s important to focus on efficiency and getting a job done but leave some redundancy and latitude for human interaction.
  6. Be reasonable with how many rules the average person is expected to obey.
  7. Have a person that understands the organisational objectives not just a calculator make the final decision on how or whether a new a new rule or policy should be implemented.
  8. No rule lasts forever have persistent feedback mechanisms that work in place.
  9. Remember its ‘effectiveness that’s key, does a rule or policy still help us achieve our overall objective.

(C) You can take what I say, quote it, use it and reproduce it, but don’t steal it, thanks Warren

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic


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