Is he named for the great economist John Maynard Keynes or Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan? Either way, he speaks a lot of sense:
There was an attack on the â€˜bureaucracy’ during the 2008 election, and the front line was held to be sacrosanct. The rest were bonfire candidates. Now we get an attack on the front line not as direct, not a ‘you are all useless’ but a ‘pull your weight, no free lunch’.
So the front line must increase â€˜productivity’. What does that mean? I do not think Bill was talking about touchy-feely peer reviews, 360degree assessments and weekly one-one-ones.
How are we to gauge â€˜productivity’? Individually or collectively? It seems we are talking about the latter here. So:
Do teachers have to teach more students in less time? Students are not widgets, and this is not something over which teachers have control. Solution: aggregate grade assessments? Nope too subjective. Perhaps a formula could be worked out, but it would be difficult. To do better, they need better organisation, procedures, scheduling and so on.
Nurses and doctors: again: what is â€˜productivity’? More patients/less time? Hang on do they control this? No, they do not. Healthcare is demand-driven and resiticted by facilities and organisation. Again, that is subjective and to do better, they need better organisation, procedures, scheduling and so on.
Let us try another one: Social workers. What is â€˜productivity’? Working through more cases? Hardly a positive outcome, you would think. What is better resolving three difficult situations over a week, or popping in to see two dozen troubled folk to clip the ticket? What else can we do? Look at outcomes? Again, that is subjective and relies on policy, procedure, organisation and so on.
Where else do we find the front line: at our borders. What is â€˜productivity’ there? Letting more people through? Obviously not. What else can we do? We look at outcomes: Less bad people/contraband getting through? Again, that is subjective and relies on policy, procedure, organisation and so on.
What is the common thread here? If you have not seen it, it is that the productivity of the front line, and the facility to measure it, is the â€˜bureaucracy’. Those worthless folk that we are trying to get rid of. How do you measure performance if you have no measures and no one to measure? How do you improve performance (and justify those higher wages) if you get rid of all the people looking at the problems and working out solutions (those detested policy analysts)?
This bodes ill for our public service. That is what happens when you have a Government in the governing business, not in the business of governing.