Feeling Listless?

Theodore Dalrymple may not have suffered ISO accreditation but he has expressed insight into related managerialism through the demands for form-filling and list-making.

His comments on checklists apply to all the ISO demands for inspection evidence and offer further explanation of the UKAS mentality, the blind leading the blind.

Checklists have so few disastrous consequences only because so much human activity is completely inessential in the first place.….

In fact, the form was even more cunningly designed than this suggests. It was of such complexity that it was almost impossible to fill it in correctly, or at least sufficiently. So that if blame had to be apportioned, which is to say if negligence had been incontestable, it could be apportioned to the last person who had not filled his little bit of the form properly. It could then be claimed that, but for this omission, the suicide would not have happened; and the chief glory of the form was that the failure to fill it adequately was almost always by someone very lowly in the hierarchy….

The inevitability of irrelevant non-compliances when you write a ridiculously complex ISO management standard.  Wilson et al. recently tried to quantify this pettiness, which is useful to see, albeit in a very specialised laboratory setting:


The skeptical doctor even evokes the T.S. Elliot quotation that serves as the motto of this blog,

T.S. Eliot said that some people dream of a society so perfect that nobody would have to be good. Likewise, some people (managers mostly) dream of processes or forms so comprehensive that no one will have to think. The forms are designed so that people can enter the Zen state of no-mind—and they are certainly effective in that respect.

Click through to Takimag for the full article:


This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Management, Medicine, Psychology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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