How to roll out a new computer system in 9 easy steps

1. Have an off day
Most big computer systems start with an off day. A senior person in an organisation has a difficult morning and by the afternoon, they have unwittingly committed their organisation to a multi million pound computer system.  It is the job of the IT salesperson to hunt down anxious individuals and catch them when they’re down. Both parties win – the salesperson gets the sale and the senior officer gets relief.  All workplace ‘what ifs’ and ‘might bes’ can be taken care of by the combined technologies of an integrated system. The new software will make everything that hurts, better.

2. Put together a cost benefit analysis
It is normal practice to write a cost benefit analysis before buying a new computer system. When I say write, I mean engage a consultant to write it.  When I say engage, I mean pay a consultant money to write a cost benefit analysis for a new computer system. Before paying a consultant to write a cost benefit analysis for a new computer system, you need to write a cost benefit analysis for engaging a consultant to write a cost benefit analysis for a new computer system. To write this cost benefit analysis, make sure you are familiar with the correct template for a cost benefit analysis. You can find this document quickly and easily on your existing documents management system.

3. Take it to management team
After 28 drafts, 2 site visits, 14 workshops and a consultation period, you can now take your business case through the approvals process. Anyone who finds fault in your document is a Luddite and should be humiliated on the spot. If you think someone has a reasonable point, attack them with an Einstein quote. Try “”If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got” and finish them off with “insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Every big computer system is approved because technology is the future. Evidence of repeated big IT failures cannot help the future because learning from the past isn’t in the future. Technology is the future and the future is technology.

4.Set up a project team
Now your project documents have been approved you can set up a project team to police the roll out. Select people who you can imagine in uniform holding a clipboard and shouting at people in a queue. Call them champions but don’t treat them like champions because they are not. It is the champion’s job to spread fear about the new system. Tell them that all personal documents will be either shared with the rest of the class or destroyed. Everyone must adhere to a new filing system or will be locked out of their own homes. Deny these rumours if challenged and insist that the purpose of the new system is to improve services for the most vulnerable people in our society.

5. Test it out
You now need a large team of Super Users. These people are not super. But it is your job to use them. Think of them as Super Losers. Use your Super Losers to spy on their colleagues and report anyone who doesn’t save new documents in the correct format. The new system has to be run on fear or it won’t work. Users will struggle to find anywhere to save new documents because the new system is impossible to get into, nevermind use. Regardless, the council has spent a lot of money on the new technology enabled future and you must not allow staff to spoil it. If your spies catch anyone using the old shared drive, send them on a training course. Any questions or comments on the new system are ‘user errors’.

6. Talk about teething troubles
Once the local newspaper gets wind of just how terrible the new computer system is and how much is cost, minimise the disruption by talking about teething troubles. Staff may well have hot cheeks and hurting mouths, but this will pass as soon as the new system beds in. Restate that technology is the future and that the organisation is proud to be part of that.

8. Declare a culture change
Once the press has moved onto something else, you can declare that a culture change has taken place thanks to the new culture change. By this time, enough staff will believe the new system is an improvement even if it isn’t. If there are any residual complaints, these can be written off as one-off incidents or ‘not how it is supposed to work’. It will never work as it is supposed to work because how it is supposed to work is a fantasy. Remember, this is the original fantasy you bought when you had that bad morning 16 months ago.

9. Blame someone else
When the whole organisation finally grinds to a password lockdown, you can blame user error, loser error or a breakdown in communication between your champions and the project management team. No one will ever find out who did it. The cost benefits analysis and associated documents will be lost forever in the new system, destroyed by the now out- of -control record destruction policy; the policy originally designed to keep the organisation safe that is now attacking itself. So you don’t need to worry about being blamed. After all, as project manager, it’s your not fault you had an off day. We all have them.

Please not that this is an accurate description of how big IT projects are rolled out in public sector organisations and it is not supposed to be funny.

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The Top 10 tactics politicians use to avoid answering the question

1. I’m very clear

Instead of answering a question, politicians boast about how clear they are. Being clear is the opposite of being vague. Being vague and evasive is bad. Being clear and direct is good. But if you listen to what politicians actually say, they couldn’t be less clear. In stressing how clear they are, politicians suggest the interviewer is muddled. If they would only listen harder and understand better, they too would be clear. Being clear is the gold standard of human thinking, regardless of what you are being clear about. For example, “Look, I am very clear about this. Kittens are evil and should be destroyed. I couldn’t be any clearer”. Indeed. Thanks for that.

2. I’m very relaxed about…

Being relaxed is the opposite of being uptight. Being uptight is bad. Being relaxed is good. Being relaxed displays confidence and certainty. As long as the politician is relaxed, we too can relax and forget a question was ever asked. This is my least favourite of the political tics because it betrays arrogance. It suggests anyone who isn’t relaxed about the opinion of the politician is unnecessarily uptight.  For example, “Some people think some kittens are good. I have a different view. I think all kittens are evil and should be destroyed. And I am very relaxed about that”. Good for you!

3. I’m serious about…

Politicians like to stress just how serious they are about issues. They say out loud “I’m serious about” a serious issue in case we think they are flippant or cavalier. It is as if someone is accusing them of not being serious. Being serious about something is an excellent substitute for answering a question. It is also a subtle way of suggesting other people, the interviewer or other politicians, are being very silly indeed.  The politician can say to an interviewer, “Look, I’m very serious about this. Your bedtime is 7pm and I’m very clear about that”.

4. Let me explain

This one works because it implies that others simply do not understand. It suggests that once explained, everyone will say “Ah right, now you have explained, I agree with you!”. This phrase is often followed by a non- explanation but it can trick the listener into thinking they have had an explanation. For example, “Let me explain. Some kittens have been found to be evil. Therefore we must not assume all kittens are not evil. And I am very clear about that”. Thanks for taking the time to educate me! I understand now.

5. It’s simple

Saying an issue is simple is to suggest the other party is making it complicated or doesn’t understand it. Simple is good. Complicated is bad. It suggests that the answer is so simple, it almost doesn’t need saying. It doesn’t matter if the issue has many different moral, ethical or practical considerations because the politician has apparently cut through all that and has found it to be simple. Saying something is simple is a clever way to disguise your own opinion under the banner of simplicity. For example, “Look, it’s quite simple, kittens are evil”.

6. Look

This is an aggressive opener to any statement. It’s often used by politicians to display faux exasperation with whoever is listening. If only the audience would listen more carefully, after all, the politician is doing their best to answer the question clearly.  I remember my dad using this tactic when he was cross for example, “Look, I’ve told you before, don’t throw spoons at your mother”. “Look” can also be said in a casual matey fashion as if the politician is finally being frank with you.

7. I say to you

This is used by politicians to add emphasis to whatever it is they are about to say and stop the other person from talking, even for a moment. Then the politician can take back control of the conversation and say whatever it is they were planning to say anyway.  After all, you can’t interrupt someone who is about to say something to you. It is also used to give politicians thinking time. For example, “I say to you this. I say to you that kittens are evil”. A similar phrase is “what we are saying is this”. This tactic is used very successfully to change the direction of the conversation well away from the question being asked.

8. I make no apologies for this

This suggests that the politician has cut through any weak, apologetic thoughts and is prepared to be bold and clear. Being apologetic is bad. Being bold and confident is good. By saying you make no apologies for something suggests that there are other people out there who would apologise for it, even if there are no such people. For example, “I gave my son a present on his birthday and I make no apology for that”. As if anyone would apologise for giving their son a present on his birthday.

9. It’s what the British public want

This is an obvious tactic to disguise a party political policy as something that everyone wants. For example, “It’s actually very simple. The British public want to see all kittens destroyed and I am not going to argue against that”. Answering a question by drawing on what the public apparently wants trumps everything. After all, if you know what the British public want, why bother talking about anything else?

10.It’s pretty obvious

This is another Trojan horse for your own opinion. Politicians use it to disguise a heavily value laden position. Saying something is pretty obvious suggests that you have direct access to the objective truth. And if you have direct access to the truth, there’s no need to answer a question properly is there? For example, “Look, it’s pretty obvious and I think it’s pretty obvious to most people. Kittens are evil and I’m very relaxed about that”. Of course!

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The only political speech you need to hear

What follows is a political speech in the style of a political speech.

“Now, I just wanted to say a couple of things before starting. Look, what the British people want is for me to be absolutely clear about the big issues facing this country today. And I couldn’t be more serious about this. It’s a simple truth and I think it’s important to talk about what is happening in people’s lives.

I want to explain something to you. Now, I make no apologies for being someone who is going to say this. I couldn’t be clearer about it. What I am saying to people is that I am very happy about it. I couldn’t be more relaxed. In truth, the facts are plain and it is absolutely what we want to see more of in our country. And I want to talk about this today.

Let me set out what we are going to do. Look, I’m not pretending that it’s easy. But let me just say this to you. What most people think is that the issues facing Britain today are clear. The facts speak for themselves. So let me be absolutely plain.

But first, let me make a bigger point, I want to make a bigger point. I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I am someone who is saying don’t let’s shy away from the issues Britain is facing today. We must face facts. It’s what the British public want. It’s a simple truth and I’m very clear about that.

So the point is this and I am clear about it. It’s absolutely the case that we are sticking to the plan. People sometimes ask me about this and I say to them this, “Let me be clear, let me be absolutely clear”. And I am very clear about that.

But look, there is only one leader who is actually talking about the issues in this campaign, who’s actually talking about what’s happening in people’s lives and I think that actually the British people will be looking at this and thinking the same thing. I am so clear I get pumped up over it. And I make no apology for this.

I don’t think I could be any clearer”.

To be absolutely clear, this isn’t a real speech.  Let me explain. I am saying to you that this speech is a made up speech written in the style of a political speech delivered by a party leader. I hope I’ve made that clear. Frankly, I am very relaxed about it. I’m the only person who is actually clear about this. And I’m happy about that.

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Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes (and why English babies don’t)

The Finnish Baby Box

Finland’s expectant mothers are given a box by the state. It contains babygrows, a sleeping bag, outdoor wear, nappies, baby toiletries, bedding, towels and a small mattress. The box you can see in the top left of the picture doubles up as a crib for the baby.

Finnish baby box
The maternity package is a gift from the government and is available to all expectant mothers. I read the full story on the BBC website a few weeks ago when I was pregnant and it made me reflect on the difference between Finnish and English maternity services.

The English Bounty Pack

As an English expectant mother, I was given a voucher by my midwife early in pregnancy entitling me to travel to a high street shop to pick up a plastic bag full of junk mail called a Bounty Pack.

bounty-pregnancy
The garish plastic envelope and most of its contents went straight into the bin after removing the free samples. The best of the so-called bounty is:

  • A tiny pot of Sudocrem, suitable for losing straight away
  • A single Pampers nappy, presumably a ceremonial nappy
  • A trial pack of baby wipes, the sort of wipes that midwives advise against using
  • Two joyless decaffeinated tea bags

The Bounty bag itself does not become the baby’s first bed because babies do not sleep in large plastic envelopes. Each leaflet offers a fresh message of fear falling into one of two categories  – ‘buy this or you will suffer’ or ‘buy this or your baby will suffer’. To avoid a baby with a sore red bottom, a low IQ and a birth defect, you should drink decaffeinated tea, buy Sudocrem and pump breast milk. To avoid passing out in labour or pregnancy, you really ought to commit to a weekly delivery of snack boxes.

The Secret Purpose

The difference between the Finnish baby box and the Bounty Pack is not limited to the contents. According to the BBC story the Finnish box has a secret purpose:

” …in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they [pregnant women] had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland’s nascent welfare state.

Wow – how clever! You get the box but you also develop a relationship with doctors and nurses who can help you.

A Not So Secret Purpose

Back to my experience. In order to get the Bounty Pack, you have to visit Asda or Superdrug to collect it. Unlike the Finnish baby box, the Bounty Pack provides nothing mothers need to look after their baby. Instead, it steers them into the arms of Superdrug or Asda. The contents of the bag invites pregnant women to begin a new relationship with the profit-making companies who pay to advertise in the pack, for example, the snack subscription company Graze Box, the supermarket Ocado and PG Tips. Call me cynical, but I don’t think Graze Box, the supermarket Ocado or PG Tips are concerned about the health and the wellbeing of new families. The not so secret purpose of the Bounty Pack is to make a profit; a profit from pregnancy.

How it Makes You Feel

So how do Finnish and English parents feel about their experiences? The BBC story features the experience of Mark Bosworth, a Finnish father. He says:

My partner Milla and I were living in London when we had our first child, Jasper, so we weren’t eligible for a free box. But Milla’s parents didn’t want us to miss out, so they bought one and put it in the post. We couldn’t wait to get the lid off. There were all the clothes you would expect, with the addition of a snowsuit for Finland’s icy winters. And then the box itself. I had never considered putting my baby to sleep in a cardboard box, but if it’s good enough for the majority of Finns, then why not? Jasper slept in it – as you might expect – like a baby.

We now live in Helsinki and have just had our second child, Annika. She did get a free box from the Finnish state. This felt to me like evidence that someone cared, someone wanted our baby to have a good start in life. And now when I visit friends with young children it’s nice to see we share some common things. It strengthens that feeling that we are all in this together.

My experience as an English mother is this:

My midwife gave me a voucher to collect my free Bounty Pack. We were looking forward to collecting our goodies. We went to Superdrug to collect it but unfortunately they hadn’t got any in stock. So my partner called in at the big Asda on the way back home from work. He presented the voucher at the customer service desk at Asda only to be told that the pharmacy closed at 7pm so he came away empty-handed. We eventually got a pack from Superdrug.

We couldn’t wait to open it. We tipped out the contents but were disappointed to discover we had brought a bag of junk mail into the house. The marketing messages made us feel ill prepared for the arrival of our new baby. And then the plastic bag itself.  We never considered putting our baby to sleep in a plastic bag. Instead, we put it the bag into the normal bin and we put all the leaflets into the recycling bin.

The Bounty Pack made us feel like consumers. It strengthened the feeling that we are simply new opportunities to sell to, not new parents who need help and support. The Bounty Pack brings bounty for the business called Bounty and its commercial partners. The pack brings no bounty for a  new family.

Which is better? The Finnish or English approach?

It depends on the purpose of maternity services. If the purpose is to help expectant parents prepare for the arrival of a new baby, the Finnish model is better. Not only do parents get practical items they can actually use in the short-term, they get a bigger prize; the confidence that the state, as Mark says, cares about them and wants their baby to have the best start in life.

If the purpose of maternity services is to make a profit, the English model is better. According to Glasgow GP Margaret McCartney’s blog, the NHS and some royal colleges make large profits by selling commercial advertisers access to pregnant women through the Bounty Pack. Profits before people and profits before pregnancy. Not the best start in life.

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The story of public services in 7 slogans

1. It’s your fault

improving behaviour changing outcomes

A Department of Health slogan

It’s your fault that we are in this mess. You are too fat, too old and you expect too much from public services. Because you are selfishly getting older, lazier and fatter, you are getting more health problems that last longer. Not content with pestering your GP for an appointment, you insist on going to A&E when you could have called 111 or gone online.  You need to change your attitude and change your behaviour to improve our outcomes. If you must get ill, choose one condition and give us plenty of notice. Whatever you do, don’t turn up with a mixture of things such as a heart problem, obesity, drug dependency and loneliness. Remember, one thing at a time. It’s not that hard.

2. There’s no money left

No money left

The note Liam Byrne left for George Osborne

The government has no money left because you spent it all on flat screen TVs and holidays. They’ll be even less money in future as you gobble it up with your self-inflicted health problems, your inability to stick to one named illness and your unrealistic expectations. Because there’s no money left, we have to ration and cut services.

3. So we have to privatize

Balfour council partnership

A donkey and a tiger working in partnership

We have no choice but to privatize everything because there is hardly any money left and the private sector is more efficient. Only profit-making organisations can be trusted to run public services. You might not like it but remember, it’s your fault. We wouldn’t have to do this if you’d kept the weight off and been happy with your old television.

4. Public services will have to compete

best in careOnly the best public sector organsiations will survive. Competition will weed out essential services that the private sector can’t make a profit from. If you rely on an unprofitable public service, unlucky for you. You might want to consider a hip operation or minor surgery instead. Whatever you do, make sure your needs can be easily categorised and parcelled up. This is not the time to be a complex human being and whatever you do, stick to one named condition.

If you have been a victim of crime, remember that crimes come in categories. The category determines the response. Anything outside the category does not exist. For this reason, you might choose to report a category instead of reporting what actually happened. It will save time in the long run.

You can find out which are the best hospitals and police forces to visit by reading their logos and other promotional material. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, for example, delivers the best in care. Compare this to Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital. Their logo is ‘where everyone matters’. Would you rather matter or have the best in care? You decide.

5. You can choose where you go

choose ST

Out of how many hospitals in South Tyneside?

Just like choosing between B&M Bargains and Home Bargains, you can choose between public services. Browse comparison sites and reviews, written by members of the public, to decide which A&E to attend when you crack your head open and which fire service to ring when your curtains go up in flames. You can also analyse and compare performance data and league tables in the evenings and at weekends. If you can a) afford to travel b) have the skills to go online c) understand how to work the system and d) have plenty of spare time during the day to attend appointments at unpopular times, you will get a better and quicker service. It also helps if you are articulate, middle class and in good health.

6. Or you can look after yourself

self care

Another helpful bit of advice

Instead of relying on public services for help, you can treat yourself quickly and efficiently at home. Your first port of call should be using over the counter medications for health problems. If it’s more urgent you should see your GP. If you can’t get an appointment with your GP then you can ring 111. When you ring 111, a 19-year-old will ask you a series of questions very slowly and send you to your GP,  A&E or suggest you go online. Remember to have your doctor’s postcode handy because this is an essential part of your treatment.

Don’t be deterred if it feels like you are being passed from pillar to post. If you see your GP multiple times and ring the surgery to chase up referrals, test results and prescriptions, you have more chance of being helped. If that doesn’t work, turn up at A&E because at least you will be seen even if you have to wait all day. After all, a predictable 3 hours 58 minutes at A&E is nothing compared to a stressful 4 visits to the GP, 7 phone calls and an unecessary 2 night hospital stay.

7. Or go online

access online

Get your bin emptied online. Access our handy app to find out why your mum isn’t eligible for a care home place

It’s often easier to go online, even in an emergency. You can find the solution to most problems online. Anyone, except everyone who can’t, can go online at home or in the library. Mobile apps are particularly useful to access services on the move.  You can go online to find out which services are the best and rate them after you have used them. If you can’t find what you need online, there’s usually a number to ring.  Don’t be surprised if you are told to go online when you ring the number. If you can’t find what you need online, ring the number again and use different words to describe what you need. If you are told to go online for a second time instead of getting help, go straight to the A&E or police station of your choice. You might be wasting their time but so what? They deserve it.

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Is your shampoo gas lighting you?

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Does your shampoo have a secret message for you? Is it questioning your sanity with its clever marketing? Beware. Your shampoo is probably gas lighting you in order to control your purse. Gas lighting is extremely damaging in individual relationships … Continue reading

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Added fat cheddar and vitamins removed

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Now even thicker, happier, fun-size, man-size, tear and share, 50% extra free, family- size, jumbo- size, XXL, double chocolate, triple chocolate, biggest ever, sugar-free, 100% fat-free, family night in, lunchables, on the go, grab bags and tastiest yet. You can’t … Continue reading

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