Bruce Nussbaum at Business Week has written an article entitled “Lessons from Home Depot’s Bob Nardelli – Why Command and Control is So Bad”.
Now here’s a lesson from the private sector which could easily be applied to Government; autocratic top-down, command and control works great when you focus onprocess, e.g. cost and quality, Six Sigma measures and all that stuff. However, if the UK Government is serious about giving local authorities and and local communities more influence and power to improve their lives – as described on the DCLG Local Government White Paper issued last October, then the present culture of centrally imposed targets and measurements must be relaxed.
Process controls and metrics may still have a place within any organisation that is accountable for its actions – whether this is to shareholders, in the case of a publicly-quoted company, or to citizens if it is a local authority. However, as the article states, controls and metrics are now commoditised sediment and should make way for the discipline and process of innovation. It remains to be seen whether Central Government is serious about devolving power to locally elected representatives, or whether it will insist on maintaining it’s ‘we know best’ attitude and the associated micro-management mechanisms it has established over the past few years.