John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
 

Strategies vs Results


Local and Central government is full of thoughts about strategies and a "strategic approach". Looking at dictionary.com we find:

A plan of action resulting from strategy or intended to accomplish a specific goal. See Synonyms at plan.
or
The art or skill of using stratagems in endeavors such as politics and business.

Are probably valid.

Ignoring the military definitions a strategem is defined as:
A clever, often underhanded scheme for achieving an objective. See Synonyms at wile

Alternatively we have:
n 1: an elaborate and systematic plan of action

So assuming that strategies are not supposed to be underhanded. What we have is a big detailed plan.

The real problem is that what people try to do is to have big strategies that are long documents with lots of things in them.

Then it comes to implementation of the strategy and what happens is that the people doing things decide what they want to do and then work out how it fits to the strategy.

In other words the bigger and more elaborate the strategy the less effect it has on reality.

On the other hand government likes big strategies.

So we now have a situation in which a large amount of effort goes into writing documents that actually have very little effect.

Par for the course really.

One of the things we have tried to do in Birmingham, however, is to stop having contradictory strategies. We have set up a database of "policies" or "things we want to do" and will generate the strategies from those. Clearly a sensible approach is to ensure that you don't have contradictory objectives.

It does, however, sadden me as to how much effort goes at great length into producing massive documents. Once there was a document which got as far as full council before anyone noted that the typist had put some intentional errors in it.

That showed that hardly anyone read it.

I did once move a resolution that "reports should be shorter" - it split the Labour Group. There is, of course, a balance in these things. However, having strategies that are inches thick and full of vagues phrases is not that productive.
 
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