Friday, June 25, 2010


There are some interesting behaviours that emerge from government and I have been trying to consider what the causes of these are.

Fear of failure seems to play a key role in the cost of government. Especially IT. As an SME I know the problems of dealing with government. It is interesting that government, a trillion dollar organization, has to protect itself from SMEs and their potential failure. They use the tier 1 suppliers to achieve this (force you into a subcontract position).

This is madness. It is the tier 1 suppliers that the government needs protecting from and I need not go into the examples of staggering failure here.

So why is this. Well government hates failure, ministers hate failure. Everyone hates failure. But government thinking appears to go like this.

1) IT projects fail.
2) We need major contractual protection and guarantees
3) These make contracting with SMEs impossible so only major supplier can be dealt with

But it is the major supplier failures that gov tries to protect themselves against that pushes the smaller suppliers out the market.

Something has to change. Government needs to start thinking differently and the media should help. Some things go wrong. We don't want them to, most are avoidable but that's life. If the media overreacts then the government and ministers layer on extra protection. This is a vicious circle.

It will be interesting to see if government actually starts to change off the back of these economic difficulties.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Question the unquestionable

Deep in the bowels of the government savings programme I am starting to see the first wall that government is going to hit on its marathon journey to rid itself of the deficit. Savings is all the focus now. Everything is about the bottom line, sofas are being decushioned looking for spare change, matresses ripped open looking for that bunch of fivers someone may have hidden down there years ago.

Papers are being written, savings ideas generated, finger in the air numbers being fed into the machine. But numbers gain a life of their own. When they are born and find their way onto paper they can become fact. The rush for ideas is incredible.

But in the haste, good old fashioned thinking seems to have gone out of the window. Pointing out the king has no clothes regarding numbers makes you as popular as burning the flag of St George on St Georges day.

But burn I must.

The activity (and boy is there a lot of activity) going on at the moment is all about writing papers with the word radical in it as if salami slicing an organisation or its services using the word radical is somehow going to make all the difference. It ain't. The words 'think the unthinkable' makes it in regulalry as does the word 'transformation'. All good stuff. But no content. 'We should seek radical solutions to transform and think the unthinkable' they all cry (or write). So what? Who is doing the thinking? Nobody really. 'We will save £20 gzillion pounds in the next 4 years by radically transforming the way we work'. Really? How?

Of course, money will be saved. No doubt. But the consequnces will be far worse due to lack of thinking.

So how should it proceed? That is hard. What we need is a radical approach to transforming the services provided. LOL. Only kidding.

While government goes out and tries to find solutions to problems they have yet to understand they should be looking at it from a different angle. The issue is that the right questions are not being asked. Stop looking for answers and start looking at the questions.

Where do you start? Well, for most of us we earn an amount of money each month and we decide, based upon that, how much we want to spend on housing, on clothes etc etc. Few (but not none) start by deciding upon their lifestyle and then worry about how they will fund it. Yes they can borrow but not forever. Of course they have the bankruptcy option but that is no good for Gov (or is it?). They lose credit worthiness for a few years and then start again.

Gov of course decided what it wants to do and then worries about the money.

Question 1.
How much money has the government got/want to raise from taxes?

Question 2.
With that money, what services can it afford to offer?

And these questions are the key to the approach to savings. we are currently running around with a view to seeing how much we could shave off of service provision. Savings must be reworked along the lines of:

1) We will spend this much money on IT. What can we get for it?
2) We will spend this much money on estates. If thats not enough, how do we accomodate our staff?
3) We will spend this much money on people. What can we do with this many people.

etc etc.

There is of course a balance between each of those to be looked at. But its an approach that will work from top to bottom.

1) We have this much money what services should gov supply. How much will we spend on delivering each of those.
2) For that money, what do we get?

It works all the way down the line.

1) I have £100 for departmental stationary. How best to spend it. If we cant buy pencils why not ban use of paper? etc.

If they continue to look at it the other way around savings will not be achieved and worse still, the services will suffer (as well).

Friday, June 04, 2010

Here we go again

One has to respect the government position around no knee jerk reactions to change gun laws. But one doubts that this sensible position will result in consistent behaviours. Dunblane was a tragedy. As a result our olympic sports team are unable to practice in this country. We are not talking casual ownership of Semiautomatic miltiary pistols. We are talking sporting pistols. Banned. Successfully prevented legal and genuine owners from owning guns. Not stopped the illegal gun ownership one bit.

So now we have a fruit cake go mad with a legit shotgun. We can debate the ins and out of why he was allowed one and largely that is of little interest to me. You will never be able to assess/predict future mental health and instability. On on that basis ALL guns should be banned as ANYONE can go nuts.

But that's not my concern either. What the outcome will be is that the laws on guns are tight enough and they will argue that shotguns in the hands of registered users do not pose a threat to society. So why treat shotguns differently to hand guns. There is ZERO difference. Both could be used for large scale massacre. So why draw the line here.

Let's see if either shotguns are banned (wrong answer) or if they apply the same sense to handguns and lighten the legislation so that our real legal sports shooters can once again practice their sport.

Whatever you do. Be consistent.