Thursday, June 17, 2010

A major obstacle to the Big Society

During my time at the Aberystwyth Citizens Advice Bureau, I had a 30 minute car journey where one of the wise accountants on the trustee board(also a charity auditor). He explained that with the contraction in numbers of middle management and the Civil Service, those who would have been taken off the streets in the 1960's and 70's by keeping busy doing nothing useful at the expense of companies and the tax payer have managed to ensconce themselves into positions in charities as various type of paid management which control the direction of the charities when the screws tightened.

Thanks Jo, understanding this context is important.

Why it is more significant since the David and Nick show started a number of weeks is the "big society" aspiration?

Because any volunteer with enough ability, drive and enthusiasm to be bothered and really useful is going to
  1. be seen as a threat by the incumbent middle class paid management
  2. be frustrated by the lack of ambition of the incumbent middle class paid management
  3. be frustrated by the lack of delivery of results of the incumbent middle class paid management
  4. had enough of pushing a rock up a hill after a few months and devote themselves to the other aspects of their already rather full life
I have a solution which as an aside solves many other problems that we face and it is quite obvious when you think about it.

Introduce a sliding scale for Employers (Secondary Class 1 Contribution) which increases as the manager to head count number decreases. For example a manager to individual contributor ratio of 1:25 might have a lower than current rate. A rate of 1:5 might attract a multipler of 4 times the current rate.

You do need some management in any organisation. Supporting good governance is important. However, too many people writing documents, preparing statistics and reporting, will damages an organisation and how much it can deliver. Just look at the Police.

A positive social engineering side effect of this would be to assign less importance to the act of management and more to the role of individual contributors. About time things were balanced up.

I am sure there would be some title flipping and tax avoidance by claiming a different job role which makes a direct contribution, but in reality still does manager stuff [at that point a job role certification manager is employed (not)].

I struggle to think of a public organisation I have interacted with which would become less efficient from reducing the number of managers(or people doing management) by at least 1/3 unless of course they kept the least capable 1/3.

BTW, mentoring is not necessarily management.

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