Monday, March 17, 2008

SMH headline - Family ties: proud institutions decline hurts those who built it

This heading to the feature letter in today's SMH captures many of the things that I have been writing about.

The letter by Professor James Isbister records his distress at the decline of the Royal North Shore Hospital, an institution that he, his father and grandfather fought to build. Now he sees it all torn down by Government neglect.

This is something that I write about a lot, my attempts to document, to record, to protect, to develop the things that we as a family have built. This drives me.

Modern organisations including governments at all levels have become used to tearing down things, sometimes ignoring things, in the name of efficiency and effectiveness. We live in an outcomes world in which past contributions by many individuals can be safely ignored.

Put simply, organisations including governments ignore the hurt they cause to individuals and families who have contributed in the past. They fail to recognise that their decisions can invalidate, rip apart, entire patterns of previous achievement in which people have taken pride.

This might not matter if the results were always better. Far too often they are not.

Time horizons in the corporate world are now measured in quarterly reporting, in the life span of individual performance contracts held by senior executives.

In Government, the life expectancy of policies and institutions continues to shorten. Yet the time horizons required to bring about real change and improvement remain long.

I have no answer to all of this. I can only say to Professor Isbister that I can understand and share his pain.

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