Balancing Relationships and Results against Rules

This submission is not a polemic against bureaucracy: it is a plea for greater attention to relationships and results whenever rules and requirements are being considered.

In the same edition of The Times announcing this competition, there was an article about 21 requirements for retired doctors wishing to help in the Covid pandemic (‚’Bureaucracy baffles retired doctors’). The next day Boris Johnson pledged to review these ‚’absurd‚’ rules (‚’PM takes aim at regulations deterring vaccine volunteers‚’).

One could recommend the structuring of board or committee or introduction of a procedure to prevent such absurd rules, requirements and regulations emerging but that is just yet more bureaucracy. What is needed is a culture ‚’ a collection of sensible behaviours ‚’ in which rules, relationships and results are balanced appropriately. In a crisis such as the pandemic, this means a degree of favouring results and relationships over rules ‚’ letting doctors help in vaccinations even though they may not have level 1 in Fire Safety and Preventing Radicalisation.

The way for this has already been shown by how vaccines have been fast-tracked. Every manager in every business should hold the tension triangle of Rules, Relationships and Results in their minds and act with reason and thought about the most desirable outcomes rather than requirements (which are not even activities, never mind inputs in the process). The Cabinet Office / Nesta ‚’Nudge Unit‚’ has already proved the value of behavioural insights in changing ingrained habits that are unhelpful. Their ‚’Test, Learn, Adapt‚’ approach, using Randomised Controlled Trials, which ‚’should be used more extensively in public policy decisions and to decide desirable outcomes‚’, could have been applied by quickly telephoning 5-10 retired doctors (a relationship approach) to test how the 21 requirements would work in practice (a question of results).




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