Thursday 27 November 2014

The Whitehall Effect

Not a single solitary soul on the whole editorial board of DMossEsq had heard of John Seddon before he published The Whitehall Effect on 5 November 2014. They all have now:
Agile is an example of the IT industry re-inventing itself ... if the way work is done is central to the problem (as is the thesis of this book), Agile can only amount to doing the wrong thing faster. (pp.48-9)
IT innovation is truly faddish: plausible but fuzzy ideas pushed by large marketing budgets on unwary lemmings who follow the herd ... Take, for example, the 'cloud' ... (p.152)
In any event, 'digital-by-default' is guaranteed to fail (see later). (p.153)
Mr Seddon believes that back offices, targets and IT systems are all very well for industrial systems but they can be downright unhelpful in the health sector, for example, or for state benefits. What you need there is ... people.

Where up to 80% of transactions can arise because the system doesn't work (failure demand), you don't need to get the unit costs down – you need to re-design the system.

And the good news is, according to him, that high quality public services can be cheaper than the poorly-designed and mismanaged systems that Whitehall currently wastes our money on.

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