Bumper June Crop of MAC Musings
Posted: 25 June, 2009 by Colin Adamson
It has been a bumper month for the public engagement debate across a wide range of participatory and management issues. We have sought inspiration for better management practice from an annual ritual in the Swiss Alps where cows battle out issues of hierarchy and succession in what we might call a ritualised ruminant rumble (to borrow the rather ancient gang fight vocab of West Side Story) complete with combat footage video. This piece brought out the worst in partner-originated puns.
Participation by Invitation Only – a discredited approach
Management issues were at the heart of Caroline’s accusation that parent power was nothing more than a piece of populist spin. The model of ‘trouble-shooting’ management embodied in an Interim Executive Board does not seek to engage parents. Instead they seem to favour the traditional ‘expert’ management style – taking the hard decisions quickly unencumbered by the burdensome baggage of external consultation. This executive pays little heed to the necessity of communicating what it is doing to parents and even as it moves to appoint a new governing body, the Board deploys the discredited practice of participation by invitation only whereby a small number chosen from the ranks of teachers and parents and a member from that most nebulous of concepts – the local community – are invited to take their place at top table. And invitations as we know can be withdrawn.
NHS Market Stimulation – new competencies needed
Andrew Craig has a different emphasis in his piece on market making in healthcare. This is a new competency for the NHS and unsurprisingly they are not yet very good at using their purchasing position within the economic framework of the NHS to get better value for patients. All are having to learn very quickly on the job as they look to managing their budgets in anticipation of them becoming subject to the new constraints on public expenditure. The debate on the positive contribution that markets may make is a theme of the current Reith lectures where Sandel tells us that there are instrinsic values in human activity where a purely economic approach does not work. The NHS will perhaps always be a battlefield between these two ideas in a context of political management.
Morality and Economics – a Reithian debate
I have touched in a previous newsletter about the deficiences in the consumerist model in those contexts where the citizen interest has to be invoked to make provision work for all sectors of societies. I wonder if this Reithian debate will form any part of Richard Thomas’s agenda as he becomes the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Management of Consumers’ Association. We marked Richard’s departure from the post of Information Commissioner and summarised the interesting debates we heard at a farewell conference in May 2009 – Jack Straw was moved to deny that the Government was using Orwell’sas a manual of statecraft. The mixture of the economic and the moral is particularly volatile in the arena of public privacy and data protection where a technology is evolving at light speed while the debate on public morality and efficiency and of course now national security and personal safety moves at its traditional pace as lots of people try and make up their minds about difficult topics.
Sarah’s Story and decency, fear and distress
An example of the controversy that can arise from sincerely held differences of opinion in the public arena came with an Advertising Standards Authority decision about five complaints received about the short film ‘Sarah’s Story’ made by the Motor Neurone Disease Association on the grounds that its violent images as Sarah is possessed by MND on the grounds that it offended against the Code clauses relating to decency, fear and distress. The ASA decided that the content was justified given the nature of the disease.
Please comment if any of the above resonates with you. We look forward in particular to hearing from Swiss dairy farmers.Tweet