Targets? Toss

Targets are a lazy way of governing, or managing, or just trying to get something done. Set a target, add a reward (or a punishment) and then sit back and relax. No need to think about it any more: a target has been set.

And that's exactly what lazy ol' Nanny State does. She wants everything to be done her way, but she doesn't want all the shit, shag 'n' hassle of actually dealing with the detail.

To take an example at random: worried about leaking water pipes? Oh dear. But no need to worry - just set the water companies a 'target' to lose let water through leaks. Then tell them you'll take away some of their enormous profits if they don't meet your new target. See? Problem solved. 

But what if the water companies turned out not to be staffed entirely by chimpanzees in suits? What if someone in those water companies actually realised that you could also reduce leaks - and hit your new target - just by reducing the water pressure a little.

Oh but they wouldn't, would they? Surely, if they did that, people's showers wouldn't work properly. Boilers, which need a certain minimum pressure, would go expensively wrong. The higher floors on flats might not even get any water at all. Everything would be fucked up, wouldn't it?

And people, who pay through the nose for the basically-cleaned-up-rain that the water companies sell, would not like that at all 

So the water companies would have to secretly reduce the pressure without telling the customers, just to meet their 'targets' and keep their greedy paws on their profits.

Which is, of course, exactly what the bastards have been doing.

Genius. Long live targets.



CozyP said...

Doesn't shock me at all. What shocks me most is that you read the mirror!

AndrewSouthLondon said...

Not all targets are bad CF - the four-hour A&E target and the 18 week referral to treatment targets are examples of very good targets which are utterly hated by the docs but improve things enormously for patients compared with when they let the docs do as they please.

But when targets are bad, they are awful. Southern Trains routinely beef up their train punctuality performance by rescheduling a stopping service, dumping the passengers on the platform, and then running it virtually empty but fast non-stop to its London terminus destination.

Most targets are much too easy to work around. And the regulators have a Nelson blind eye, for an easy life.

Would you have a target of abolishing all targets?

patently said...

Sorry Andrew, the 4 hour A&E target is not a good thing.

It is not a good thing when you take your child in the evening to A&E with suspected post-operative complications, and wait for 3 hours 30 minutes to be seen because people have to be seen in strict order because meeting the 4 hour target is more important than being assessed on clinical need.

It is not a good thing when, 20 minutes into the consultation with the doctor, the charge nurse walks in and informs the doctor that this child must leave A&E, now. No discussion, he must leave, and all trace of him must be gone within 10 minutes.

It is not a good thing when your child is therefore admitted to the ward and spends the night there waiting for someone to confirm that he can go home, because the ward doctors don't know the test results and the A&E doctor is not there.

It is not a good thing when you have to drive the two hour round trip back home to get overnight stuff for your wife; two hours, because they closed the A&E unit 10 minutes from your home because it was "more efficient" to have a single unit for the whole county. Such a single unit being, naturally, more able to meet the 4 hour target.

So no, the 4 hour target is not a good thing. And the doctors are right to hate it. Why? Because they are skilled. They know what they are doing. They went into medicine for a reason. And their skilled assessment of the best clinical approach to a patient is being overruled by a man with a clipboard and a stopwatch.

banned said...

For years a popular local railway branch line service was the subject of complaints of overcrowding. It brought in scores of office and shop workers, college students and other visitors right into town at 08.40, ideal except that there was often no room for the would be passengers at the nearer stations to board.
That service had just three carriages and complaints poured in from individuals, chambers of commerce, local authorities, colleges etc. Demands to add a fourth carriage fell on deaf ears.

Then a couple of years ago the gummint set a new target about reducing complaints.

The railway company hit upon a spiffing wheeze to comply and the complaints ceased overnight thus achieving the new target.
They cancelled the service completely because you can't complain about a service that does not exist. Cunts.

Martin S said...

Targets are dangerous.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Thatsnews said...

Targets are dangerous.

Only if your stupid enough to stand in front of one.

So the same could be said about the 15:32 from Paddington.

Anonymous said...

A bank employee told me recently that her bank had decided to relocate one of its operations to India. To avoid redundancy payments, employees were set unachievable targets and disciplinary action, culminating in dismissal, taken against them when they, natch, failed to meet them.

CF is absolutely right: targets are a godsend to the lazy, incompetent manager and they are used cynically. I'd abolish them!


Joe Public said...

"Targets" simply kick-start the creativity of the minions tasked with achieving them.

Frank said...

Let me add my little bit to Patently's response to Andrew. He tells you what's wrong with the 4 hour target, let me tell you what's wrong with the 18 week target.

The 18 week target is bad when they find they can't hit it. Once they've missed the target there is no incentive to get you back into the system and treated.

I went to my doctor last March. I have just had the operation I needed. The 18 week target turned into over 52 weeks for me.