Just Do It

A masterclass in ‘systems doing’

Simon Guilfoyle

Thursday 24 May 2012

“The question remains as to whether any one individual within the police profession can swim against the traditional tide of doing things.”- Professor Betsy Stanko, Reflexive Coppers, April 2012

W. Edwards Deming taught us that the prevailing style of management damages the system and the individual. Yet much evidence shows how arbitrary numerical targets, internalised competition, and incentive schemes result in the wrong sorts of behaviour and inevitably the damage Deming spoke about. In many organisations the institutionalised waste is so endemic that inertia rules. Management reactions are typically knee-jerk and rather than getting things back on track take us off into the Milky Way, as Deming put it. It might be well-meaning, but it amounts to tampering and usually brings destruction and losses in small and big ways.

A better way is to first see what is getting in the way of being able to do a good job for your customers, and then decide what changes to make. The key to improving things for them, and workers, and for making the most of resources, is a real understanding what’s causing variation in results as they are experienced by customers.

Great in theory, but…

  • What if you aren’t at the top of the organisational food chain?
  • What if senior managers don’t understand (or even reject) the approach?
  • What if your boss tries to rule you with targets or bombards you with instructions you know will generate adverse effects?
  • How can you swim against the tide and not be swept away?

In this session, Simon Guilfoyle shared his own experiences and sought to demonstrate how a systems approach can be successfully initiated one person at a time, even in organisations that haven’t caught up yet.

As he put it, ‘Don’t wait for them to catch up.  Just do it!’

About our speaker

Simon Guilfoyle is a serving Police Inspector and systems thinker. He writes and lectures on systems thinking and policing, having had one article published this year in Policing – A Journal of Policy and Practice, as well as a chapter in the recently published Delivering Public Services that Work Vol.2. He holds a Masters in Public Administration and is working towards a PhD. He is a member of the Society of Evidence Based Policing and has acted as an advisor and subject matter expert for police forces across the country.

You can follow Simon on Twitter and read his blog.

 

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