Imprint: Triarchy Press
Published: 5th December, 2016
List Price: £15.00
Size: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
Tags: Public Sector, Public Services
Kittens are Evil: Little Heresies in Public Policy
Charlotte Pell, Rob Wilson, Toby Lowe
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Government policy designers, public sector workers and managers, research academics and practitioners and, of course, kittens.
Kittens are Evil: Little Heresies in Public Policy
"Teething troubles, poor governance, bad apples and unintended consequences are cited as reasons for high-profile failures, such as disability assessments, Universal Credit and the Troubled Families initiative.
This book argues that best efforts and poor excuses aren’t good enough.
The authors describe how a bad system beats well-meaning individuals
every time.." (from the Foreword)
The ‘Little Heresies’ seminars provide an important public platform to debate the future of public services. This book takes its title from the first seminar, ‘Kittens are Evil’: to suggest that private sector management methods and policies developed using private sector thinking create perverse incentives and lasting damage to the social fabric is a heresy.
Public services’ management and policy practices, underpinned by neoliberal thinking, were proposed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s - the belief was that using private sector management methods would not only improve the quality of services but increase effiency as well.
Successive governments have continued to subscribe to this belief - they believe that New Public Management (NPM), as it is now called, is the right approach to public services, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
In this first publication from the Little Heresies series, eight heretics, all leading thinkers and practitioners in their professional fields, explain the effects of NPM across a range of services:
Marketisation: Kathy Evans explains why marketisation is deeply destructive in the provision of all public services and for care services in particular;
Performance Management Practices: John Seddon, Toby Lowe and Simon Guilfoyle show how 'Payment by Results', 'Targets', ' League Tables', 'Inspection' and the like, guarantee failure of purpose, inefficiency and costly services;
Family policies: Stephen Crossley reveals the true cost of the failed thinking behind the Troubled Families program, and Sue White and David Wastell share some alarming research being carried out to build designer parents and children (if only we ate less, exercised more, and made more of an effort to be perfect in every way... government could absolve itself from its responsibilities);
Government interference: Simon Duffy, John Seddon and Simon Caulkin show how and why 'Whitehall' and interference from government in innovative new services and the management of basic services, is deeply problematic.
Each heretic offers an alternative way of thinking about and developing policies. Government would do well to listen to these experts in designing practices for the future.
"If you think there is something quite wrong with the world of public policy, then read this! Perhaps you are on the receiving end of what appears to be quite barmy strategy, or maybe you are making the decisions, wondering why the same thinking you've always applied is still not working.
I have an allergy to cats so somewhat reluctantly accepted a recommendation of a colleague to read this - he said “you’ll like this, it says what you've been saying all along ... and it's nothing to do with cats!”. I read part of one chapter, it might have been something like ‘everything you know about management is wrong’ and I put it down after a few minutes. I had mixed emotions... the words could have been my own and I could feel the anger starting to rise in me! A couple of weeks later I read it cover to cover, not actually front to back but just where I let it take me. I definitely read the front pages last as I recall laughing when I noted a really positive reference to Toyota. Toyota is the one company in the world that I think has it pretty much right, so given I had agreed with absolutely everything in the book, how palpable and reassuring it was that Toyota should find its way in their somehow?
On completion I was energised and back on my campaign trail... The world is upside down and inside out and no one seems to be able to see how it is; people just carry on as before, Del Amitri style. So, this book is great and I agree with its every word and sentiment. It’s also dangerous - it’s hard to live in ‘the matrix’ knowing this really isn’t how the world should be, it makes you full of fight and fighting is tiring. So, wait until you have a spare moment, or wait until you are thinking of giving up trying to make the world a better place....then read this and energise! And pass it on to someone else, someone in the public sector suffering from all this bad-thinking, or better still someone high up, in the hope that they might finally see the folly of their ways."
Ian Railton on amazon.co.uk
Charlotte Pell is 'chief heretic' and founder of the Little Heresy series. She is a visiting fellow at Newcastle University. She edited 'Delivering Public Services that Work: Volume 2' and has written for many blogs and other publications on public services.
Rob Wilson is Director of the Centre for Knowledge Innovation Technology and Enterprise (KITE) and Professor of Information Systems Management at Newcastle University.
Toby Lowe is a leading thinker and writer on complexity and the Performance Management of social interventions. He is a Senior Research Associate at Newcastle University Business School, where he helps to co-ordinate North East Together: The Leaders Network for Social Change, and the Little Heresies in Public Policy seminar series.
Kathy Evans, CEO, Children England
Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform
Simon Caulkin, Writer and editor
John Seddon, Leader of the Vanguard organisation
Toby Lowe, Senior Research Associate, Newcastle University Business School
Simon Guilfoyle, serving police officer and university lecturer
Stephen Crossley, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Northumbria University
Sue White, Professor of Social Work, Sheffield University
David Wastell, Emeritus Professor, Nottingham University Business School