Management based on outcomes makes good people do the wrong thing!?

From the outset our Campaign has been critical of today’s obsession with targets and outcomes. Nevertheless the world of work with young people continues to be blighted by this fetish. For example in March – without a caution in sight – CYPN invites us to attend a ‘ crucial one day event at the Aston Business School Centre.

The Outcomes Spring Conference: Best practice in commissioning and delivery for children, young people and families

We will be looking afresh at the Young Foundation’s Framework of Outcomes, which is to be championed at the CYPN event, at our conference in Leeds on March 8.

In the meantime it is refreshing to read Toby Lowe’s analysis of the dangers of outcomes-based management and practice in this piece,

Payment by results – a ‘dangerous idiocy’ that makes staff tell lies

Controversially perhaps he suggests that ‘there’s a growing momentum behind the understanding that outcomes-based performance management in general – and payment by results, in particular – is dangerous idiocy. It makes good people do the wrong things, and then forces them to lie about it.’

This a deeply uncomfortable truth. And youth work is not be excepted from services, whose practice is distorted by deception.

In another excellent blog Helen Wilding, a self-confessed systems practitioner explores The use and abuse of measurement.

She concludes,

‘We need to remember there is nothing objective about measurement.  Choices are made about what is the best measurement or the best proxy.  And, evaluation of whether performance is good enough is a judgement made by a person.  Those choices are formed through our ideologies and what we value.  In a radio programme, Marmot said something like – “arguments about evidence are often arguments about ideologies” – so too arguments about measurements are arguments about what we choose to value, how we choose to measure that and how we choose to use them as ‘tools’ in helping us do what we do.  They can be instruments of learning or instruments of control.’


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