Thursday, April 09, 2009

Random thoughts for a Thursday

I am now up to date with all past Belshaw World columns, so from this point I can post them on a Wednesday with a week's lag. This also gives me a chance now to catch up on other things such as my New England blog round-ups, as well as my reading of local newspapers. It's quite hard keeping in touch with developments across such a big area.

This reading is quite useful at a broader level because I test some of my broader thinking against the purely local. In On-ground effects of the Australian Government's stimulation packages - March 2009, for example, was informed by my local reading.

In DEPRESSING JIM BELSHAW, Lynne talks about the continuing experiences of partner Peter in dealing with Centrelink and the job network system. I actually caught the now deleted post because Neil picked it up in his Google reader series before Lynne deleted it.

Now the issue of dressing up for an interview is one thing. We all have to fit in to some degree - call it protective colour - with employer perceptions. However, the real core of Lynne's complaint was the apparent implication that if Peter did not comply with the wishes of his trainer he might lose the Newstart benefit.

This actually links to something I have written about quite extensively, the difficulty of designing systems (and especially Government systems) to take difference into account. We all know that a one size fits all approach does not work, yet we constantly replicate it because the difficulties involved in doing otherwise seem just to great.

There is a link here to the problems that I complained about in Belshaw’s World: Seven deadly sins of performance measurement. Peter is presently sitting within a measurement and compliance world surrounded by various performance measures and associated compliance rules and techniques all governed by budget constraints. There is little room in such a world for difference.

In Train Reading - Elizabeth Wiedemanns' "World of its own: Inverell's early years", I reported that my train reading had shifted to this local history. This is a very good book, although my copy, annoyingly, has some blank pages.

The New England of 2009 has become very fragmented. Elizabeth's book draws out both Inverell's unique features - this is the Inverell of the title - and the different pattern of geographic linkages that existed in the past.

Her description of the way local self-interest destroyed attempts to get east-west rail linkages provides a graphic illustration of the problem I complained about in Belshaw’s World: Overcoming the curse of local self-interest.

Well, time for work.    


nellibell49 said...

Thank you again, Jim. I have so rarely touched this "straight" world in the last decade that the shock factor is still with me and your clarity on some of the issues is helping me considerably. Moreover, I enjoy the New England Adventuring. Next - the BIG RIVER. Yrs Lynne.

Jim Belshaw said...

Glad that the comment was of some help. As you know, I do sympathise. Looking forward to the big river!