As for the future? Money, if possible but truth... no matter what the cost.

The cost

In school, you are given a lesson and then a test.

In life, you are given a test, that teaches you a lesson.

That’s why experience is such a hard master.

I thought, when BoJo bit the dust, we’d lost all the valuable management, ‘how-not-to-do-it’, lessons. I thought a rich vein of creative writing and ideas would dry up! I need not have worried.

Politicians are the gift that keeps on giving.

In the last 48hrs we’ve had a living example of two of the useful tools in the management tool kit;

  • rescue management and
  • opportunity management.

Rescue management can be a physical emergency, a plan that’s gone horribly wrong, or a department that’s lost its way… the approach is the same.

Eight steps…

What’s really happening? Stepping back and creating an overview. 

Who is injured and what’s happened. In our context, ‘injured’ might not mean physical injury. It might be injury to reputation, a balance sheet, a crisis in confidence or the organisation’s ability to respond.

In the last 48hrs, it’s been the reputation of the UK as a trading nation.

Finding out the extent of the damage, figuring out what you are really dealing with, is step one.

Step two; stop any further damage. 

It might mean shoring up a collapsing building, stemming a flood or an about-turn, a reversal of policy and crippling embarrassment… so be it… we’ve just seen it.

Next; take action. 

When the worst happens people are often paralysed. Show people who is in charge and taking action. I think we know the answer to that.

Four; get people organised. 

Marshalling the people. Physical disasters or otherwise, it’s about organising resources and support.

Five; figure out the priorities. 

Who or what is the priority? In this, most recent, case, it is not rich people.

Six; clear the way. 

In a physical rescue, it’s about getting emergency services in and out. Access. In less dramatic management, it’s about being approachable and accessing the people who count. 

The Governor of the Bank of England and the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Seven; create assembly points and safe havens. 

In a physical rescue, it’s obvious. In management terms and certainly in politics, it’s a flag to rally under. Leaders are visible, have a vision and share it, often.

Lastly; helping the people who have been damaged by events. What’s needed? 

In the present predicament, it’s about people with mortgages and fuel bills to pay.

It would be easy to imagine the management tools and techniques for a physical disaster, would be different to the approach to a management or political disaster… 

… they are not.

Rescuing people, or a business, an organisation, a department. The principles are the same…

… figuring out what’s happening, what are the priorities, what are the resources and people. Tell them what you want, involve them, support them and tell them, well done.

What we’ve just seen, is history being made. Never has there been so rapid a collapse in government, policy and leadership. What we have also witnessed is a master class in rescue management.

There is a widely held view there are seven functions of management;

  • Planning,
  • organising,
  • staffing,
  • directing,
  • coordinating,
  • reporting,
  • budgeting. 

If there is an eighth it might be, ‘preparedness’. Preparing for what? The unexpected? Is that possible?

If history repeats itself, one thing is for sure, we know we have to expect the unexpected.

Is it unexpected, with the economy in tatters, that the NHS could be facing funding problems? 

Is it not entirely unexpected that the reality will be at the worst end of expectations?

The second skill, opportunity management…

… yes there will be some opportunities. They may come disguised as challenges, efficiencies, productivity, innovation and could take us in directions we don’t expect.

One thing we know for sure, the future will be in trade-offs and compromise…

…because the NHS cannot keep doing more, for less.

A new bargain has to be struck, between the NHS, politicians and the public, the NHSE must move quickly, let us know what it is.

What are we not going to do?

If rescue management and opportunity management have anything in common it would be transparency. Tell people what the situation really is. 

In the last 48hrs we have seen transparency lead to humiliation. It’s brutal. But, if transparency has a currency, it is truth. 

As for the future? Money, if possible but truth… no matter what the cost.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.