Two pertinent articles in today’s Sunday Times relating to a lack of understanding of complex systems.
The first “Labour hid ugly truth about NHS” includes the news that reports on the state of the NHS conclude that:
a blind pursuit of political and managerial targets as the root cause of a string of hospital scandals that have cost thousands of lives.
The second “Too many GCSEs make children ill” gives the opinion of the new children’s commisioner that:
many children were under such stress to achieve good exam results that they lacked a “work-life balance” and were at risk of falling ill from stress.
Last week at the Henley KM Forum and goodness knows how many times previously Dave Snowden and others have repeatedly pointed out that applying outcome management to a complex system does more harm than good. I have very recent personal experience of a crazed new wave of managers introducing outcome measures, traffic light systems and a constant barrage of progress reporting meetings which achieve little but the disatisfaction of staff and a decrease in trust.
Is anyone in Govt health, education or the environment listening? or more optimistically put, perhaps this is the tipping point where they all self realise the error of their ways and measure impact not outcome.