Troops called in to bolster flood defences

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And for those interested in this kind of thing

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Phil
January 9, 2014 5:10 pm

Bet the blokes were chuffed to fuck!

How many sand bags need filling sir?

Eight tons worth.

*sad face*

Joe Eastwood
Joe Eastwood
January 9, 2014 5:12 pm

Fortunate that we have the floods now,before the next traunch of cuts, and that we are just about able to call on troops to help, but by 2020, what then? Surely by now it is blindly obvious, even to those who will not see, that we will be placing this resilience ability at risk by cutting more Regiments.A halt to the cuts is needed NOW, until we see how recruiting is going.

Dunservin
Dunservin
January 9, 2014 6:13 pm

@Joe Eastwood

Even after the Army has been cut to 84,000 regulars (or thereabouts) in 2020, I suspect it will still be able to spare the odd 100 for MACA operations like this provided it isn’t simultaneously trying to maintain 6,000 others somewhere like Afghanistan. Nonetheless, it’s not the primary role that skilled squaddies, sailors and airmen were trained at great expense to perform.

Phil
January 9, 2014 8:19 pm

What is bullshit though is very expensive and specially trained soldiers being used as navvies.

Generating a labour force is the job of local authorities.

What should happen is there some employment law and emergency funding law that allows local authorities to declare an emergency and receive an emergency advance from central government to recruit a pool of casual labour.

You’d need some sort of law to indemnify the authority because there wouldn’t be time to vet the labourers medically for labouring but there’s no reason why a large number of locals couldn’t be called to arms as it were and told to bring sandwiches and some sturdy boots and a good back for a casual daily pay rate that was not taxable. You could in fact have a retained pool of such people who were medically fit.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 9, 2014 10:01 pm

– when I started work at a big City Council about thirty years ago, we did have a direct labour organisation engaged in a range of different tasks from day to day – but with a strong underlying loyalty to the City and a perfect willingness to take this sort of work on if required – when I left thirty years of privatisation (much of it imposed on us by Government fiat) had handed the whole shooting match over to Contractors – who want either a hefty retainer to make men available for these exigencies if they arise, or an even bigger payment if no retainer is agreed; and they have even less by way of contingencies than HMAF. I’m afraid the option employed is much, much cheaper… although in the long run the old way of doing things was probably a much better way of maintaining resilience in Civil matters…

Sad but true

GNB

Phil
January 9, 2014 10:12 pm

What is depressing me is the fact that local authorities seem to be de-emphasising infrastructure repair and maintenance more and more and cutting corners here and there.

They were originally incorporated to pay poor relief and maintain various infrastructures. Now as money is being cut it seems highways and works is getting less slice of the cake. Yet projects are still being funded from different pots of money that create more infrastructure that then cannot be maintained.

Grrr.

Mark
Mark
January 9, 2014 10:37 pm

Though this was the kind of thing the army wanted to do when it did is sdsr 2010 review and set up it regional brigades in the adaptive force nearly sure I remember reading that.

If it’s not what it’s wanting to do gd place to start trimming in sdsr2015.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 9, 2014 10:41 pm

– Not for the most part their choice – mostly down to the Privatisation mania that dominated Tory thinking in the eighties and nineties – it was not called Compulsory Competitive Tendering for nothing! Councils used to employ large numbers of unskilled workers on decent pay and conditions (avoiding taxpayer costs in respect of in-work benefits); they trained apprentices (avoiding skill shortages in construction and land management); and they had a strong sense of being on the “same firm” (providing for civil resilience smoothly, be it snow clearing or flood protection).

But there were inefficiencies and NOBODY MADE A PRIVATE PROFIT! OUTRAGEOUS! thus CCT…

And, inevitably, first-generation contracts were bought in , the Direct Labour Organisations were wound up…and then the sharp practice started…so now instead of a lot of decent blue-collar jobs doing something useful – as you suggest they should, and as remember we did…we have endless contract administrators on the public sector-side trying to keep track of the spivs and conmen employed by the contractors to “manage costs” (that is, do the least possible work for the most possible revenue, using the cheapest possible labour and materials)…

Isn’t progress wonderful…

Now seriously Gloomy.

Phil
January 9, 2014 10:46 pm

If it’s not what it’s wanting to do gd place to start trimming in sdsr2015.

The Army wants to be embedded. It’s embarking on artificially re-creating what happens normally when you have lots of local units dotted around the country.

What will happen is that lazy and broke LAs will call them in whenever a couple of sandbags need filling so they can leave their maintenance teams to do work on council housing etc. That is not the purpose and not the intention of the Army. But they will learn the hard way.

Sir Humphrey
January 9, 2014 11:00 pm

totally agree with Phil. the Military have been trying to get out of the MACA game for some time for this sort of thing because its a total misuse of trained personnel. Fine for life threatening emergencies, but for everything else, it should be down to the local authority to follow the very clear guidance set out in the CCA 2004 on how to plan for this sort of problem.
There is still a mindset that somehow the military can just rock up and fill sandbags because we’re not busy doing other things around the world…

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 9, 2014 11:26 pm

– As I said, most LA’s don’t have “Maintenance Teams” – they have Contracts – if those Contracts have to include “might include filling sandbags” they will cost more (even if the clause is never invoked) – if they don’t, the extra cost needs to be negotiated in a hurry in the way that UOR’s are (that’s really cost efficient as we know!)…it’s not a question of “lazy and inefficient LA’s” calling on the Army in preference to using their own workers…they mostly just don’t have the workers in the numbers required any more…and not, with some exceptions, by choice…

GNB

(Missing comment in the ether!)

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
January 9, 2014 11:56 pm

Yes I can see this doesn’t require trained soldiers, but I see this as a great opportunity for the military to build community relations etc. I seem to remember an article about some sailors painting a school somewhere in Africa this week.
Also it isn’t like a 100 guys spending a day filling sandbags is going to effect deployments etc, but I also think it would be better to have more useful units deployed i.e. for floods maybe send some guys in assault boats (think plastic box with an outboard) or other small boats or something rather than a manual labour force. But they shouldn’t be relied on except in a once a century or rarer event.

Chris
Chris
January 10, 2014 12:44 am

GNB – I am I will admit no fan of the traditional Labour view that everything should be nationalized and the Government shall provide. I well remember the shameful mindset that eventually emerged – the worst examples at BL; where the Union was so disgusted when the management sacked stores workers found fast asleep (actually found to have built a dormitory in the stores so they could sleep throughout the night shift ready to drive their ‘private hire’ taxis all day) that they called an immediate all-out strike to get the sleepers reinstated. In nationalized industry it seemed work was unnecessary, pay was guaranteed and jobs were for life (especially if the employee was in the Union). It wasn’t a pretty sight, nor was it ever going to be sustainable as almost nothing was produced to pay for the strike ridden industries to remain in business. I am then not surprised that the Gov’t cracked down hard to make the industries productive, and the tool used was privatization, on the grounds that profit-driven companies would not put up with those that were institutionally work-shy.

But.

Privatization is a blunt instrument. Initially the results looked good (aided by changes to the law regarding strikes and secondary picketing) and the really bad performers started to become efficient. All was not as shiny as it seemed however – the hunt for the quick buck made the new management as irresponsible as the unions had once been – again from BL days, to make the books look instantaneously more healthy the board needed to cut the payroll; they had strong union workforces in Brum & Oxford and all points North so they closed the MG plant at Abingdon – renowned for its good work relations and being profitable – because the workers wouldn’t kick up as much fuss as those in the more strident plants.

Moreover, privatization became the answer to everything among those politicians wanting to forge a shining career – no analysis, no carefully calculated business plans, no effort put in at all, just a lazy smug cop-out that all problems would be solved under private ownership. Suddenly all sorts of perfectly efficient infrastructure was contracted out ‘to make it better’. The department managers of old became contract funds managers and needed to be sharp on accountancy, budgeting, contract law, contract negotiation and and and. The NHS earned a new level of middle-management every time a new (money) problem arose and is now probably spending almost as much managing the budgets as on healing the sick. And your Parks Departments, those quiet people who kept the municipal parks neat & tidy because they had real pride in their craft, are history.

The pendulum swung, and it went too far in my opinion. There are aspects of the State that ought not be in private hands – water supply, energy supply and national security (civil & military) for a start. The basic public health service and basic education also. Then there are grey areas such as transport infrastructure and telecom/internet provision – equally vital to keep the country viable, but not life & death. At a local level the council works department, pest control and so on are still probably better value for money as a branch of the council rather than hired & fired contractors to a profit-making shell company employed by the council’s profit-making contract facilities agent.

In the DCDC Future Land Operating Concept 2012, there is a statement on industry contracted equipment support. “Industry will do whatever is necessary” it says, to keep the military machinery working well. (jcn2/12 page 2-14). In a brief to the Army I offered the observation that this is an invalid appreciation, and that industry will do whatever is contracted and funded; nothing more. I think I detected faces going ashen at the thought.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 10, 2014 1:45 am

– Serious agreement breaks out at TD Towers. I too have little time for nationalised industries as a general principle, but municipal services are not an Industry in that sense…and treating them as such has turned people who used to be paid to manage guys who fixed stuff into contract managers…put public money that was available to fix more stuff into the back pockets of the contractors…and stripped out many decent blue collar jobs with good skills training attached that would do much to restore social cohesion to areas that badly need it…ideologically driven nonsense that ultimately leaves us with people like those self-serving conmen at a major security company that shall not be named in a position to charge us for tagging prisoners who were either fictional or actually dead…

And leaves Squaddies filling sandbags because the relevant Council has contracts not labour – and as you say those holding them “will do whatever is contracted, and nothing else”

GNB

dave haine
dave haine
January 10, 2014 8:39 am

Yep….This is just another example of that old lie that ‘Business can always do the job cheaper and better than public agencies’

wf
wf
January 10, 2014 9:07 am

@GNB and : agreed, although I understand why it was done. Some public sector unions made things ungovernable and unreformable. I note that the Civil Service and the like are still on national pay scales :-(

Chris
Chris
January 10, 2014 10:29 am

wf – yup – as noted in my first paragraph of my previous comment, nationalized industry became ungovernable. I suppose there is psychology at work here; a nationalized industry by definition is owned by the taxpayer, which means as taxpayers the shop-floor deep down would hold that they each individually had authority over their ‘possession’? That they could do with the company whatever they liked because they owned it?

A second psychological aspect would have been that in many cases the previously private company would have been nationalized because it failed to remain competitive and was on a path to unacceptable closure; to the shop-floor that would be taken as ‘the management failed and is useless and has no moral high ground in any negotiations’. That’s certainly how the mindset looked from the outside. A bit disingenuous in that the shop-floor absolved themselves from any responsibility no matter how slight in the downfall of the business.

As ever the reality was much more complicated and intertwined. And I’m afraid it goes back to the two huge conflicts of the previous half century – the wars had taken a huge toll on British businesses and the Government coffers. By the end of the 40s the majority of UK manufacturing was completely worn out. Flat-out production on ageing machinery with no time or money to renew renovate or maintain – just minimum repair to keep the production flowing. At the end of the war there was a huge need to rebuild re-equip and revive UK capability, but at the same time massive expenditure was needed, the market was weak. So companies struggled on, waiting for the upturn in business under which modernization could occur. But at the same time a massive influx of returning labour – the demobbed – arrived looking for their promised employment; after all, what had they been fighting for? All that sacrifice needed honouring by state and populace, including a well payed job and a better standard of living. What the demobbed actually found was scarcity of jobs, rationing, the prospect of years of deprivation and hardship ahead. “The Government must do something about it!” but the Government was overwhelmed and little seemed to be done. The workforce became disaffected and strident as a result. Labour relations in businesses became polarised in the extreme – the workers demanding rights and improvements they believed were bought & paid for by their wartime service, the management angry that their all out effort to keep producing for the war effort was likely to end in closure at the hands of the very people they’d thrashed their business to support. Result: Investment in businesses didn’t happen. Who would put money into any business torn by strife & strike? The lack of investment made the labour relations worse; the worsening labour relations made the likelihood of investment even more remote. The spiral to self-destruction. Add to that the Unions that were relishing their ever strengthening power, with a strong desire to take control of the country by workers’ revolution. What was needed in order to rebuild successfully after the war was a common purpose; one simple goal for all to strive for. Instead the UK broke into soft-edged factions all pulling in different directions, a situation that got progressively worse until the late 1970s; very nearly anarchic. What an ungodly mess!

Like her or loathe her, Maggie did break the downward cycle. It was probably more important that there was an abrupt end to the us & them union vs management industrial strife and less important what the actual measures were – a sort of national slap in the face to bring us out of the industrial hysteria we had made. Clearly the idea of nationalization did not break the cycle; more like it fed the monster of industrial unrest – sometimes there’s a need for hard love and not woolly appeasement.

Perhaps a better model than direct nationalization would have been to take the failing businesses into a quasi-autonomous Government backed holding company, one that still needed to show financial responsibility as an entity but one which in reality had the Treasury as its funding provider. In that way the ‘taxpayer owns it’ mindset would have been removed and some level of responsibility would have remained.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 10, 2014 8:43 pm

– much to agree with in that summary, especially in respect of the mass labour/mass production industries that were most often nationalised…and of course the investment problem was compounded by the runaway inflation of the 60s and 70s which left the SMEs unable to find cash for investment – they were often run by small groups of Shareholder/Directors whose modest wealth pretty much disappeared during those decades, leaving little surplus to either modernise or see off hostile and asset stripping take-overs…bit of family history there, so a trace of bitterness might be detected!

In fairness to MT (not easy in these parts!) I think she did represent the zeitgeist and I don’;t think she anticipated the outcome…she was a small-town Methodist who grew up when we were still a major manufacturing power who trained as an industrial chemist and worked in manufacturing. With that background I think she probably believed that freed of the fiscal drag of failing nationalised industries and punitive taxation that the market would look to fund a new generation of manufacturing endeavour…I doubt if she expected the emergence of casino capitalism and city spivvery, and I’d guess she was shocked rigid by it…

GNB

dave haine
dave haine
January 10, 2014 9:59 pm

@ Chris
Was the impetus for nationalisation poorly performing companies? Or more a socialist government, and its new theories on socio-engineering? A willingness to influence markets to bring about their vision of a social utopia? (and a certain amount of power corruption). And to be frank, a certain amount of class warfare. Bear in mind, this was a time when the leftist government imposed swinging death duties on aristocratic families, unless they handed over a large proportion of their property to the aforesaid government. Equally, the Barons of industry, were also considered as oppressors of the people. ‘The means of production should rest in the hands of the people’.

So To blame this entirely on the unions (and their perceived desire to run the world) is disingenuous, and avoids other factors that we like to sweep under the the table. You alluded to it in your last post. After WW2, there seems to have been a very pronounced shift to left of centre attitudes in this country, at every level of society. I think this was a conscious reaction to the way the returning soldiers were treated after WW1. Then, as a nation we almost tried to resurrect an edwardian grandeur (everyone knowing their place, and being grateful for it), that in reality had died with the outbreak of war.
Although to be honest, you could also argue that this was the culmination of a culture shift during the twenties and thirties, Jarrow Marches, Great Depression, soup kitchens, starving urchins etc… Which occasioned much soul searching and guilt amongst some elements of society. There were ‘chattering classes’ even then, but in those days they were more likely to actually do something concrete- there were many great houses that were handed over to philanthropic causes, or charitable trusts set up at this time.

And not all industries were ‘worn-out’. I can only speak for aviation, but there were many companies with innovative products, advanced production techniques and filled order books. The fifties was a golden age for british aviation. Other industries I don’t know so much.

Anyway to return to the undercurrent here, I don’t think it is the business of government to run airlines, or telephone companies, or the myriad of nationalised companies that they ended up with. That being said there are functions that should be run as services, not as businesses. Our problem as a nation, is we seem to seesaw between business/ service models, veering insanely between different ‘one size fits all’ approaches. Rather than accept that different roles/ functions require different models. and efficiency isn’t how much it costs, but rather, what you get for the money spent.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 10, 2014 11:12 pm

@Dave Haine – also important to remember that the all out national effort to win the war had given centralised planning, bureaucracy and government generally a once in a century reputation for being the way to get things done…by the same token, the implementation of the Beveridge Report can be understood as being to a large extent the nationalisation and centralisation of many existing mechanisms for health and education…and even some for the relief of poverty…rather than the creation of a completely new world of social provision from scratch ( I have my Dad’s Municipal Medical Card from the 1920s, and he attended an LEA Primary School and then a Grammar School specialising in Languages during that same decade…and the Central Library where he studied and the City Hall where he attended Concerts and Dances were both built by the City to provide useful work for the unemployed at the same time).

Chris
Chris
January 11, 2014 12:46 am

DH – you may well be right about left wing Government driving for social change not Unions. To be honest I had difficulty at the time separating policies of Labour and the Unions – they all blurred into one. I’d talk about not being able to slide a Rizla between them if anyone here was old enough to remember the use of cigarette paper as feeler gauges…

Ref everyone knowing their place – there is always a hierarchy in society. Even when the existing one is overturned to be replaced by people power, society creates hierarchy. Hence the Politburo in the USSR with its network of Party Officials, living lives of grandeur because of their position. I suppose at heart we are still pack animals, and like all the other pack animals there just has to be a pecking order for society to work. The choice then is not whether people know their place, but whether people can work their way up through to higher status positions or not. Those in authority need to be honourable, good at their job, and act responsibly to those in their charge, that’s all.

Ref one size fits all – sadly we have become a nation of tick-box junkies. There simply must be a defined Process for every occasion; ticking all the boxes in the Process means the task has been done perfectly. Balderdash. For one, how is it the writer of The Process knew exactly what steps were required to perform every task in every situation? Two, why is someone using initiative, on-the-spot judgement, personal interaction or any other critical social skills to perform the task in a more appropriate and efficient way considered a pariah because they didn’t follow The Process like an unthinking simpleton? Good grief – if we’re not allowed to use humanity to make society work better; if we’re only allowed to follow prescribed courses of action; if we are banned from thinking for ourselves then put us in identical metal shells and call us Daleks…

In my opinion there are two ways to work. one is to spend effort on learning your trade, all the interesting details, all the methods mitigations and consequences – then apply the considerable knowledge to the best of your ability to do the job as well as you possibly can. This is the path of experience, skill and dedication and sometimes leads to genius. The other way of working is to be told exactly how the job is to be done and to repeat that sequence again and again. This is the path of auditable process, blind obedience and mediocrity, where all operatives perform to a common denominator normally set lower than the individual’s true capability. Organizations adore the latter – it means the workforce is predictable and replaceable, and removes all personal responsibility because no-one is personally liable if they can prove they were just following process. Furthermore the regulators love Process because they can audit and judge industry ‘goodness’ with haughty authority even if they haven’t the first clue what the industry does or the science behind their technology. And when the auditors are displeased they can call in the lawyers who can similarly blindly compare people’s actions to the defined process. Processes allow the ignorant to appear clever. (A bit of a ‘cat among pigeons’ statement there…) So all businesses must have prescribed processes and must be able to prove they follow them, in order to earn enough ticks to placate the auditors. Quality plans. H&S policies. Corporate ethics procedures. Continual Professional Development processes. At some point the level of control detail will reach a point where computers can be given the processes to run and the outcome would be no different to the job being done by people. Automata.

Personally I think the former method is better – people engaged and using their individual skills and expertise to the limit, within a boundary framework of simple rules. I can remember when a lot of the technology industry operated this way; where companies had inventors operating on their own initiative creating innovative stuff for the benefit of all. Since the 90s fear of litigation has restrained all the potential free thinkers to follow step by step processes through endless reviews where box-tickers have to be sure the expert is doing the job to their high standards before ticking the box and allowing the expert to continue to the next review team. No doubt there is already a prescribed process for innovating technology.

I’m pretty sure the likes of Brunel, Stevenson, Sopwith, Jenner, Faraday, Snow or any of the other scientific & industrial inventors did not plod unthinking through corporate processes review by review, tick by tick to create ideas that changed the world…

wf
wf
January 11, 2014 8:44 am

, @dave haine: what, you mean ISO9000 compliance *isn’t* the point of existence and life itself? Surely not!

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
January 11, 2014 9:45 am

@ Chris,

I think it depends on the industry and the circumstances. Airline pilots for example have their pre-flight checks, and they have them for a reason. That’s the last place you want someone to be “freestyling” in order to shave a few seconds off the preparation time, when the consequences of getting something wrong is that the plane dives into the ground like a dart with 300 people onboard.

Normally if there’s a procedure in place, experience has taught me it’s for a good reason. Normally it’s been introduced in order to prevent someone repeating a previous f**k up or making sure that in a scenario that is very complex all the issues that need to be looked at are covered.

Horses for courses.

Chris
Chris
January 11, 2014 9:48 am

wf – I have met many fine people who believe in audit trails and qualification tests and proof of compliance and ISO9000 or whatever number it has this year. And the rules in most contracts mandate this (couldn’t possibly say because the purchaser needs boxes ticked to convince their management they’ve done good). I do however think its perfectly possible for bright and committed people to produce real quality product without rigidly following tight inflexible process – if ISO allows a mix of training, encouragement, involvement, enthusiasm and occasional examination to be written as a quality plan then I’d feel much more friendly towards it. After all, this was how apprentices at one time were made into responsible productive and capable employees, by nurturing and example and being generally guided into the right way to do things.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in this country and all around the world engineers made absolutely cracking stuff, really useful and durable, some still in service decades or even centuries later. All without ISO9000. Similarly, despite the guarantees of ISO9000 some modern stuff is fragile, unreliable, poorly functioning tat. Its really not processes that make good stuff, its bright and committed people.

Chris
Chris
January 11, 2014 10:01 am

ChrisB – yes I agree. There are certain roles that need to ensure every last detail is assessed for all sorts of reasons. I would prefer for example that my doctor didn’t decide on a whim to put me on a course of leeches just to see if they work. But I do think, in the (for want of a better description) creative professions – science, technology, design engineering as examples – there is much to be gained from letting good people use their full capability in an encouraging environment; in these situations tight process can hinder or stem the creative.

Next time you are in conversation with someone who is relaxed but excited to tell you something, while they are trying to explain, keep interjecting and asking for clarification on the meaning of words, whether they really meant x or y and so on. Watch the enthusiasm to tell all just evaporate away…

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
January 11, 2014 10:39 am

@ Chris,

I’ve done precisely that once before, and the enthusiasm never diminshed because the person really believed in what they were trying to tell me (we’ll gloss over the fact that their idea was, umm, a bit mental).

I think there’s probably a happy medium somewhere with creative types. The main problem I’ve encountered with creative people is that they often have very clever ideas, but seldom a grasp of small things like finance, time and even need. Subsequently you can end up with many brilliant ideas that are absolutely unaffordable, or even completely unnecessary.

Phil
January 11, 2014 10:55 am

Well, having read huge amounts of peer-reviewed research on safety etc I would say you are both right.

Procedures can reduce safety levels in many scenarios (for example, humans which monitor steady state systems are then expected to react quickly when a non-design state occurs and the procedures in place can be inappropriate or wrong in those circumstances or congitiely in an inadequately specified situation humans fall back on previous routines (ie previous procedures) which are no longer appropriate in the non-design state).

But also cognitively humans can make slips or lapses and procedures and checklists can help reduce that risk (they can also mean people think they’ve done something they haven’t).

The answer as ever is to know the work area and take a middle ground approach – use procedures where necessary, had some redundancy (not too much though as redundancy breeds its own big risk) and simulate non-design situations and scenario’s (although you still can’t simulate all possible outcomes in many technologies).

In other words, all hi-tech stuff has risks that will always be there no matter what you do.

Enjoy your flight.

wf
wf
January 11, 2014 2:06 pm

ISO9000 stopped being useful once it became a tick box visible externally: the point about the procedures, signal to noise ratio etc is to produce things consistently well. Provided you are producing quality product at an acceptable price, how you do it is no one else’s business.

I always liked Scott Adams definition of change management consultants: homeless ex-management types shouting “spare change!” at passers by who migrated to just shouting “change” instead….

Joe Eastwood
Joe Eastwood
January 11, 2014 2:30 pm

Gentlemen,
A wonderful informative and insightful string, I enjoyed it and learned from it.
I have no industry or commerce experience, but much of what you said easily transferred to my profession of Infantry Soldiering.
You will all have seen the Quartermaster Sgt in the film “Zulu”, pedantically going through the “tick box” syndrome, whilst all around men were being killed, having run out of ammunition.
A romantic scene for the cameras, yes, but I was part of just such a system for almost 30 years.

I needed a watch as part of my equipment to go on a specialist course at Hereford in the 1960s.
Watches were not normally issued to Private soldiers,as the Colour Sgt pointed out to me.”But” I protested, “I can see dozens behind you on the shelf” His reply will stay with me for life ” They are for counting lad, not for issuing”
History shows that too rigid an adherence to “practice” without retaining the ability to see that something different is needed has cost many thousands of lives.
One of the problems of course it that just as one can teach your men a series of ” SOPs” ( Standard Operating Procedures) so can an enemy (competitor in business?) study and learn those same procedures
Those who are able to ditch the tick boxes and think on their feet are usually described in the Army as ” Marching to a different drum”, often meant in a derogatory way.
Yet those who are able to march to a different drum almost always carry the day when predictable things become very unpredictable!
Thanks again.
Joe.

dave haine
dave haine
January 11, 2014 7:07 pm

@ GNB
Yes of course, that was the missing factor in my thread, I’d quite forgotten the centralisation of resource management needed to fight WW2 (I put it down to power corruption, but thats a little unfair). The thing is the pre-war system worked adequately well…and I sometimes wonder if thats how it should be done now- devolve health, social care, education and inshore environment to local agencies, who can respond to local needs, with local solutions. Bring back the parish councils and the Boroughs!


Aah….the rizla gauge…..oh, oh I feel an anecdote coming on….
When I was working at one airline equipped with B737-200s, the lineys had ‘soaked’ a rizla sheet in some sort of resin which obviously hardened…so, of course when any precise measurement was called for- the cry went up and out came this sheet…they had even made a special box for it (as is good practice for any precision measuring device)….anecdote over.

As for ISO9000 I have a confession to make…I spent three years on a project to introduce JAR-OPS1 and ISO9000 into an airline. TBH the problem is that people are using it as a hammer, when really it’s a screwdriver.

ISO9000 asks for organisations to document their aims, objectives, protocols and processes and procedures, using a common and appropriate methodology and format. As a part of this there must be an effective quality and compliance monitoring programme. All fairly well known so far.

The problem is in two parts, most organisations get the first bit, and develop a common methodology and format. ignoring the appropriate bit and then shoehorn all the procedures to fit. The reality is that you can use different formats in different role/skillsets. For example in my airline, the aircrew procedures consisted of interpretive material followed by checklists, engineers were a series of task related steps, and our ops ones were sets of conditions to be applied to decision making. All simple and appropriate.

The other problem is the auditing. These organisations then set up compliance audit programmes. To make sure that everyone is sticking to the procedures. The bit that they always miss is the quality bit. A quality audit , means you look at everything. Are people sticking to the procedures, if they aren’t, are the procedures appropriate, can the procedures be simplified. Do they cover what’s needed? Are the management and supervisory structures appropriate? What needs changing? Who needs to direct the change?

Like a screwdriver, used properly ISO9000 is a flexible and useful tool that can make sure that standards are consistent and everyone understands and knows how to do their job effectively. You build the procedures to what you need- If you need people to stick to say a checklist, then that’s how you build the procedures. If you need your team to ensure that the decisions process includes certain considerations then you construct the procedures accordingly. S’easy.

@Joe Eastwood
Doesn’t only happen in the military…I had a situation where the engineers needed to replace an engine-driven gennie- there was only one left in stores, could they have it?
Stores bloke: No- someone might need it
Engineer: We need it….
Stores bloke: no someone at an out-station…

This was passed to us in ops- our pleading fell on deaf ears

Finally, the MainTroller, an ex-RAF engineer (and Halton ‘brat’) told us he was going to go over and have a word with the stores bloke, to see what he could do.

Very soon after we got a very brief phonecall from the MainTroller: ‘Sorted’…..

Ten minutes later over the security radio net:
“First aider to the engine stores….”

wf
wf
January 11, 2014 9:35 pm

@dave haine: it’s interesting (says the man now working in IT) how little anyone mentions ISO9000 anymore. SOX is the driver of process documentation, and surprisingly enough, it’s better than the former is….no, I never expected to say so!

dave haine
dave haine
January 11, 2014 10:18 pm

@ wf
Isn’t SOX (Sarbanes Oxely) to do with US financial regulations and the compliance and corporate oversight thereof? And as such largely confined to those who do business in the US? Except airlines, where SOX contravenes JAA regulations, and therefore would mean if applied, US airlines wouldn’t be able to operate within European airspace…just one of those lovely things, that nations love to do just to confuse the f**k out of those of us trying to get the job done, properly.

I think as a general rule, ISO9000/1/4 & 10003/5/6/7 for quality management systems and ISO14000/1/4 for environmental systems are still the relevant standards for those particular subjects.

wf
wf
January 12, 2014 9:38 am

@dave haine: for mech eng, yes. For multinationals with US operations…SOX is everywhere.