A view backstage at Beverley Minster

A plague on their houses

Neil Pickford deplores modern management.

Sorry, but I’m a bit angry this week, so if you want a relaxing read I recommend you turn to the gardening article on another page.

I believe there are two curses in modern life. Actually, I believe there are many curses in modern life but one that is well up in my top ten is the fallacy that individuals can run organisations without the slightest practical knowledge of the industry that they are ‘managing’.

Years ago managers were either born into the role or were gradually elevated from the shop floor, having shown exceptional knowledge, intelligence, flexibility or years of boot-licking servility. For all their faults these systems at least engendered a basic knowledge of the product being dispensed by the process – and the people doing it.

Nowadays we have a professional class of parasites, educated in jargon and buzzwords, whose life-experience revolves around meetings and computer terminals. This leads to a total disconnection between the managers and those people, products and services they are managing – and we all suffer because of it.

Another curse, as I have argued in the past, is the modern spreadsheet whereby various facts are collected which then seem to have equal value with every other fact on the screen. In such a world the death of 10,000 people has the same impact as the death of 10,000 ants.

Bring these two mindsets together and you have ‘the perfect storm’ – decision-making without experience and without the ability to discriminate. The workforce ceases to be an asset but becomes a commodity – as does the customer and everything else connected with the service.

This management madness currently infests the health and social services, as I shall demonstrate with a tale of undersized incontinence pads.

Did you know that a decision has been taken by an anonymous oaf at high level that all people who have been receiving home-deliveries of such essential NHS equipment up till now will henceforth get pads that are one size smaller than previously supplied.  It’s an economy measure, apparently.  

Now I’m quite prepared to say that, as a nation, we’ve got to make savings: the last Government was spending public money as if their pockets were on fire and it all had to be reined back. But does it really reduce the level of international indebtedness to provide everyone, and I mean everyone, with pads that don’t soak up everything they should? No, of course not – in fact it increases costs because bedclothes have to be washed more often.

Full-time carers are less productive the next day as a result of being woken up in the middle of the night because a bed is wet and someone is crying for help.  Oh, and you use twice as many pads anyway. But, on the spreadsheet, a cost–saving has been made and so the manager is well on the way to promotion and a bigger pension. The hours of time lost by everyone else as they deal with the unhappiness that flows from this is unquantified and, therefore, does not exist.

Would people with common sense try to save money by buying themselves smaller sized shoes that crush their feet, or shirts with collars that are much too tight? Of course not, yet these parasitic professionals in their polished palaces of puerile pomposity can make similarly stupid decisions for other people with impunity.

One thing that might prevent such mindless management from taking root, to reduce heartlessness and inhumane results, is ensuring that people in such roles have a degree of commonsense and empathy – which, after all, is how the main faiths teach us to behave to fellow humans.

Now I’m willing to bet that the individual who took the decision to reduce the size of night-time incontinence pads is a non-believer – and I believe it’s time to take a stand on behalf of people with faith against those who have none.

I currently have two boxes of unwanted incontinence pads which I would be quite happy to deliver to …….well, I won’t say where, but I’ll bet many of you would like to watch.


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