Imprint: Triarchy Press
Published: June 2020
List Price: £12.00
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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Government policy designers, public sector workers and managers, research academics and practitioners and, of course, kittens.
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
Kittens are Evil II: Little Heresies in Public Policy
The ‘Little Heresies’ seminars provide an important public platform to debate the future of public services. This is the second published collection of talks given at those seminars. Both books takes their title from the first seminar, ‘Kittens are Evil’: it is still widely believed that private sector management methods and policies work well in the public sector. To suggest that they create perverse incentives and lasting damage to the social fabric is still 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 second volume (a companion to Kittens Are Evil) nine heretics, all leading thinkers and practitioners in their professional fields, explain the disastrous effects of wrong thinking and ineffective practice in areas like:
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.
The heretics in this second 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.
Reviews - read reviews of the first volume here
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.
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.