Newsletter spring 2012
My book about why our organisations are failing is selling – whether it is actually selling well is a bit difficult to tell – but I’m doing my best to keep the argument developing:that human and human-scale is both effective and efficient. The news that Whitehall spent £1.4 billion over the last seven years sharing backoffice services in an attempt to save £159 million will come as no surprise to readers of the book.
I was at an internal seminar at one Whitehall department (I won’t say which) some months ago, when it was explained to us carefully that the government’s new policy was now to avoidtargets and to embrace payment-by-results. I asked the senior civil servant presiding how she would treat theinevitable contradiction between the two. She didn’t understand that there was one. Nervous that perhaps it was me that wasmisunderstanding, I drafted an article in reply. It has now been published in Local Economy journal.
Why? Because they are both the same thing - forcing managers to meet numericalapproximations, when they should be struggling for broad improvement. This is my Guardian Comment article which suggested all bonuses should betaxed at 90 per cent. The flurry of colourful comment below the article immediately made me re-think.
It is now two years since I spent two months in the snow in western Massachussetts, helping to organise the New Economics Foundation’s American sister organisation, theNew Economics Institute (ex- E. F. Schumacher Society). The NEI now has a huge boost because it has apresident and CEO in the shape of Bob Massie, founder of GRI and director of CERESand former Democratic contender for the US senate. His appointment coincides with theannouncement of an important conference in June that will set out the new economicsin the USA. I’m certainly going to bethere.
There has been a concerted attempt to talk down the high street, mainly by those with a stakein out of town shopping. I was on the World Tonight arguing the opposite and have tried to set out why the opposite it also true. Yes, the high street needsto change, but it isn’t going to be overtaken any time soon.
Most allotment histories are a series of acts of Parliament, and are anyway bowlderised andonline. They don’t explain where theideas came from, or the great lost tradition of agrarian radicalism from whichthey sprung – nor do they explain the extraordinary allotments revival now going on. I’m trying to do that in a newe-book published by the brand new e-publisher Endeavour Press. I’ll let you know when it’s out.