Short Circuit

This is Stick Boss. Stick Boss is basically a good guy who cares about his organisation and wants the best for people. Unfortunately, he has a problem with his brain. This means that just as he’s on the cusp of understanding how to make best use of his performance information, his brain short circuits and he reverts to the use of arbitrary numerical targets (and other associated abominations).

Let’s have a look inside his head to see what goes on in there…

Stick Boss brain

As you can see, the content of the different segments of his brain is pretty standard. Unfortunately, the ‘numerical targets’ quadrant interferes with his thought processes in certain circumstances. Take the following example…

Stick Boss is bright enough to understand that different parts of his organisational system influence each other, helping or hindering service delivery. Even some stuff that wouldn’t be obvious at first can affect how well the front line performs. Therefore, Stick Boss is keen to understand where the opportunities for improvement lie, so he ensures his performance measurement system reaches into these dark backlots to extract useful information that can aid his decision making.

This is good. He’s got a clear understanding of his organisation’s purpose and recognises the need to have access to performance information that measures the right things.

But then the brain defect kicks in.

Instead of using the right measures in the right way, the short circuit in his brain overrides the need to present performance information in a usable, contextualised format, and supplants it with an ill-conceived reflex that results in his potentially useful data being corrupted by arbitrary numerical targets and binary comparisons. What a missed opportunity.

Like I said, Stick Boss isn’t a bad guy, but his brain problem prevents him from realising the damage he is causing by relying on fundamentally illegitimate performance practices. So, if you know people like him, please help.

About InspGuilfoyle

I am a serving Police Inspector and systems thinker. I am passionate about doing the right thing in policing. I dislike numerical targets and unnecessary bureaucracy.
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5 Responses to Short Circuit

  1. How to help? Particularly if he or she finds notions like control charts or the absence of targets “fads”.

    • I suppose one option would be brain surgery.. 😉

      Seriously though, I think the key is in demonstrating the benefits of alternatives so people like Stick Boss can see that they actually work better than what he’s been used to…good luck!

  2. Pingback: Short Circuit | Policing news |

  3. John Hunter says:

    I find it most useful to help people change by showing them the benefits they can gain by thinking differently. It is a gradual process for most people (a few can be won over to a great new way of thinking right away but very few). I discuss ideas like this on my blog, including here:


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