Kittens are Evil II
Imprint: Triarchy Press
Published: June 2020
List Price: £15.00
Size: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
Tags: Public Sector, Public Services
Kittens are Evil II: Little Heresies in Public Policy
Charlotte Pell, Rob Wilson, Toby Lowe & Jan Myers
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The heretics in this second 'Kittens Are Evil' volume echo many themes from the first, including the critique of performance management that Cathy Hobbs describes as a long-term ‘distraction’ for those working in public services who lost the focus on the bigger picture. She prescribes slowing down and focussing on learning for improvement.
Richard Davis continues on this thread using examples from his career in consultancy of how managers consistently measure the wrong things. Challenges to the current system structures come from Catherine Needham and Steve Lock who call out professionals and organisations as barriers for change.
The thought-provoking chapter from Vince Richardson and Alan Peyton suggests that the government needs to take direct control of the money in the economy.
Another heretic in this vein is Jake Hayman who explains how charitable giving is broken as a result of the connection between mission and service delivery being lost in the race to evidence impact.
Also, on this theme, the chapter from Peter Wright uses the recent history of government public health policies around alcohol to claim that evidence isn’t enough to make policy, due to the dark interests in stopping us doing the right thing.
Finally, Mark Smith's dual heresy is the apparent paradox that standardisation of services is more costly than personalisation and that bespoke provision (not ‘one-stop shops’) is the way ahead if we are to reduce failure demand.
From a review in Local Government Studies, Feb. 2023
"In her excellent review of the original Kittens are Evil, Emily St Denny noted that ‘the defining property of a dominant orthodoxy is its mundane invisibility’. The ‘dominant orthodoxy’ in this case was New Public Management (NPM) and its application to public services in the UK and elsewhere. The essays in this new volume, no less heretical than the original, are more diverse in the orthodoxies they target. While the essays from Mark Adam Smith (on standardisation), Catherine Hobbs (on performance management), and the late Richard Davis (on measurement) are all logical sequels to the original book, there are new areas of
interest. Stephen Lock proclaims the death of the organisation as we know it, while Vincent Richardson and Alan Peyton propose a state monopoly on money creation as a means to ensure economic stability.
Kittens are Evil II retains the format that made the first edition so accessible – eight short heresies, all written with a clarity that enables a general reader to understand them, but each delivered with a polemical style that feels like the spiritual descendant of the 18th century pamphleteers.
Like its predecessor, the essays in this edition of Kittens are well-written, thought-provoking, and profoundly relevant to the challenges facing public services today. "
David Adams, Lead Interventionist Portsmouth City Council
Read the full review
Visit the Local Government Studies website
Reviews - read reviews of the first volume here
Anton Hemerijck is Professor of Political Science: European University Institute, Florence
Centennial Professor of Social Policy: LSE
Mark Smith is Director of Public Service Reform, Gateshead Council
Catherine Needham is Professor of Public Policy and Public Management, University of Birmingham
Jake Hayman is CEO, Ten Years’ Time
Stephen Lock is Head of Business Intelligence, National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network
Peter Wright is Convenor, North East Public Health SkunkWorks
Vincent Richardson and Alan Peyton are Supporters of Positive Money
Catherine Hobbs has completed her doctoral research at the University of Hull on learning for systemic leadership in local governance networks.
Richard Davis works for Vanguard Consulting.
Charlotte Pell is 'chief heretic' and founder of the Little Heresy series. She is a visiting fellow at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. She edited 'Delivering Public Services that Work: Volume 2' and Kittens Are Evil and has written for many blogs and other publications on public services.
Rob Wilson is professor at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University with research interests in measurement and performance in public management, co-creation and collaboration of services, data and information sharing in public services and public service reform.
Toby Lowe is Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership and Management at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. His aim is to help improve the funding, commissioning and performance management of social interventions across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Jan Myers is Associate Professor in the Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University. Her research covers organisational behaviour and HR, and leadership, individual and organisational development.
Kittens Are Evil (Vol 1)
The Whitehall Effect
Systems Thinking in the Public Sector
Delivering Public Services:
Case Studies - Volume 1
Case Studies - Volume 2