About Me

I am a serving Police Inspector and systems thinker, passionate about doing the right thing in policing. I write, lecture and advise on the benefits of incorporating systems thinking principles into policing, having studied the works of W. Edwards Deming and associated authors and successfully applied their theories to operational policing.

In 2012, my article, On Target? Public Sector Performance Management: Recurrent Themes, Consequences and Questions, was published in the Oxford University Press journal, Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice. Later in the same year, I authored a chapter in Delivering Public Services that Work (Vol 2) (Pell / Seddon – 2012, Triarchy Press). In March 2013, my book ‘Intelligent Policing: How Systems Thinking Methods Eclipse Conventional Management Practice’  was published by Triarchy Press. The book has attracted international interest amongst police officers, systems thinkers, academics and policy makers, with copies being sold around the world.

I am currently involved in further writing, research and course design, and act as an advisor to UK police forces and other agencies. I have lectured at the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham, Bristol and Wolverhampton and presented at several national conferences. I am studying for a PhD at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, researching how police performance management can be advanced through systems-based approaches.

I argue systems thinking can be the catalyst for exponential improvements in policing and the wider public sector. An understanding of variation and the application of evidence-based decision making, within an organizational climate that fosters trust and devolved responsibility holds the key to improved service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness. I contend that all numerical targets are arbitrary and prone to causing dysfunctional behaviour, but argue for relevant and proportionate performance measurement within a systems context. I am considered to be a subject matter expert in my field.

My blog is a light-hearted look at how systems principles relate to policing and everyday life. I hope you find it interesting, entertaining and maybe even useful…

Enjoy!

Simon Guilfoyle

8 Responses to About Me

  1. Simon says:

    Hi,
    I saw an article you had written via John Seddons newsletter (Vanguard) and shared it with an online community I am a part of (reddit.com) in the UK sub-section.

    90% of the people who commented (it is not possible to see how many people viewed the article unfortunately) were very positive about the message you gave and it seems that your thinking should be given some further traction.

    I would like to invite you to consider an ‘IAMA’ (I am a, ask my anything) post to reddit, either in the main site or in the UK side of it, I am sure there would be some good discussion and you would get something out of it, there are a lot of intelligent people there from all over the world, even in the UK side of things.

    Either way, thank you for your writings, and best wishes. You can make an account yourself if you don’t already have one, or email me responses and I will post them, it is easy enough to setup an account and you would probably enjoy a lot of the things we talk about there. (http://www.reddit.com)

    Best

    Simon

    • Hi Simon,
      I hadn’t heard of Reddit but I’ve had a look on it and there is some good discussion on there. It’s good to see that there are some positive and thoughtful responses to my article as well. I’ll definitely consider signing up to Reddit and doing one of those ‘IAMA’ things you recommend.
      Regards,
      Simon

  2. Steve B says:

    Hi Simon,

    My name is Steve Bennett. I am a retired West Mids Officer, whose hey-day was back in the “good” old eighties. Whilst we had to contend with two major periods of riot and the industrial action of the miners strike, at least all of our problems were community based, whereas these days you guys have a bureaucratic mountain, performance targeting (yes, we know it’s still there!) and so many other obstructions to doing the job we all love(d).

    My life is now focused on my insurance business which is based in Bilston, but more often I work from home. The business provides (among other products) an insurance policy providing replacement vehicles to victims of vehicle theft. In our 4th year, we are experiencing phenomenal growth. Part of our challenge was raising paublic awareness about car crime, which led to the creation of my early blogs http://theftprotect.blogspot.com and http://carcrimeuk.blogspot.com

    These early forays into blogging reconnected me with the policing community and many of my old colleagues who were keen to bring me up to speed about how crime and detections are recorded.

    I saw that serving officers were precluded from “whistleblowing” about matters of public interest for fear of career damage. Yet so much is still so badly in need of reform in the service, it seemed to me that the thousands of officers suffering in silent desperation, needed another voice, one who perhaps would not have the the same concerns.

    As a result, a few years ago I created http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.com – a site to discuss police and criminal justice matters openly and without fear of retribution. As a result of the articles I have written, I am in regular contact with the not so popular Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, Paul McKeever Chairman of the Police Federation, numerous polticians, 40 or so popular police bloggers around the country, including Inspector Gadget, PC Ellie Bloggs, 200 weeks to name a few. Thousands of officers visit the site every day now, thanks to improved analytics and word of mouth. My most recent “claim to fame” if we want to call it that, was an appearance on the politics show a few months ago on the day they interviewed Chris Sims about the pending cuts. Contraversially I suppose, they chose my article “Too Many Chiefs” as the headline for the piece.

    I am in contact with all of the JBB Federation offices, many of whom e mail me their views and opinions as they know I am most sympathetic to the rank and file cause for reform. As you might have seen, the West Mids Fed Office are particularly supportive having placed the site on their best blogs list.

    I have conducted numerous analytical exercises about force strength, visbility (my findings on the 11% were published some months before the HMIC report. My particular interest is in crime statistics and detections and how they are manipulated to convey the impression that performance is improving. My views on this are somewhat contraversial again, in that I believe that by suppressing crime numbers and inflating detections, those who have perpetrated and or condoned such actions have provided the Government with the single biggest weapon to restrict police spending. Common sense dictates that if forces show repeated reductions in crime with existing resources, Ministers will expect the same with fewer resources. The most culpable Chief Officers know who they are and they have become the authors of the misfortune the service now faces.

    I work closely with DCI Rodger Patrick, the retired Solihull officer who is respected for the doctorate thesis he completed on statistics and detections. Te difference being, I try to use laymans terms whereas the nature of his work required a far more detailed presentation.

    Great to see a working copper blogging about the realities of the job in his own name. I realise there may be many thoughts and views you are unable to express publicly, but you are to be commended for creating the site about the job you clearly love.

    As a retired copper, you might expect support from this quarter and you have it. I loved every minute of my time in the service and with all the additional challenges you face, you have my admiration, respect and gratitude for the service you give on our behalf.

    Good luck with the blogging. If I can be of any help increasing your readership, please don’t hesitate to shut up.

    Kind regards
    Steve Bennett
    Retired West Midlands Police
    http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.com

  3. Alison Heather says:

    Hi there! I’m a also a wolves public sector bod who’s been trained in the a vanguard method! Great blogs that had me laughing out loud as I am also compelled to view and observe all life as a system now (don’t get me onto a certain coffee shop chain in town… It brings my twitchy eye on!)

    However, as I am on a mission to learn more about other systems, are you willing for me to come and learn more about your system and what you’ve learned if you’ve run any further interventions elsewhere?

    We’ve run quite a few interventions of our own (I work in a team of 4) so perhaps we can share some learning?

    Let us know, cheers!

  4. Hi Alison,
    Glad my blogs make you laugh and that I’m not the only one tormented by the terrible systems I stumble across on a regular basis. I’ll email you on the email address that comes up on my screen next to your comment.
    Cheers,
    Simon

  5. Pingback: #intelligentpolicing – Simon Guilfoyle’s ‘Systems’ Thinking | Dave's Bankside Babble

  6. Pingback: Hitting the Target; Missing the Point | BSC Policing Network

  7. John B Dick says:

    I am grateful to my previous constituency MSP, Jim Mather, for directing me to the work of John Seddon and to this blog. I am now retired from NHS management but still take an interest, not least because both the woman I have loved for half a century and I have both had advanced surgery in the last year or so and have benefited from much preventive care from our health centre. Here in Argyll, our experience has been of unqualified excellence because I think where it counts professionals focus on outcomes and achieve targets incidentally or if not, game them.

    I have long had an amateur interest in Organology. That is a recently recognised discipline: the study of historical musical instruments. Belatedly, it eventually dawned on me that every one of the handful of new insights that I have discovered (mostly about early clarinets) is the result of Systems Thinking, though I had thought at the time it was just the result of “Thinking”.

    Or was I right the first time?

    Is Systems Thinking the only complete thinking? Is the other kind just incomplete, unfinished, poor quality thinking? If it can be applied in Organology, can and should it be applied to everything or at least to much more than and more important than management?

    It took a generation for the steam engine to move from replacing horse and water power driven machines to doing something new in railways and shipping where the big benefits and applications lay. Likewise, computer technology was initially used in stock control, bookkeeping and the like.

    Is Systems Thinking like the steam engine and digital technology? If so where should Systems Thinkers go next?

    So, though Systems Thinking in management addresses fashionable but evidence-free false assumptions underlying top-down command and control systems, targets and the like, ignoring many other aspects, will we come to see that stopping stupid management practices, annoying, counter productive and frustrating though they are, are not the most important uses of Systems Thinking?

    Mostly Systems thinkers are managers who are into Systems Thinking rather than Systems Thinkers who are into management. We need some pure System Thinking to find the killer application.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s