Reflections on my top 20 blogs in nearly three years of blogging

Bank of America Tower

Bank of America Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought that it might be of interest to share my top twenty blogs, over nearly three years,  ranked by number of hits, with the most popular first. To put this into perspective, there have been approaching 2,500 blogs and nearly 50,000 hits, yet these are the top-twenty according to WordPress statistics:

  1. Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt found dead after working long hours | Mail Online
  2. What are the three types of Interim Management assignment?
  3. What’s the difference between an Interim Manager and a Management Consultant?
  4. UK Local Authorities and Shared Services: Cost-Cutting – Myth or Reality?
  5. Immigration: The Polish paradox | The Economist
  6. Interim Management:  Ten Emerging Trends and Outlook for the Future
  7. Malaysia travel: What to do in the Cameron Highlands | CNN Travel
  8. Public Sector Catch 22: Cost-Cutting Vs. Cost Reduction (Part 1/4)
  9. Utilising Professional Interims to Help Reduce the Budget Deficit – Removing Catch 22?
  10. Public Sector Catch 22: The Role of “IT” in Business Transformation (Part 3/4)
  11. Public Sector Catch 22: Structural Reform, Strategy and Implementation – How to avoid a Omnishambles Recovery Programme? (Part 4 of 4)
  12. An in Depth Look at Deleveragings – Ray Dalio – Bridgewater
  13. UK Local Authorities and Shared Services: Cost-Cutting – Myths, Realities and Escalating Risks?
  14. The cult of home ownership is dangerous and damaging – Adam Posen –
  15. Gray Wolf Picture – Animal Wallpaper – National Geographic Photo of the Day
  16. Osborne has now been proved wrong on austerity – Martin Wolf
  17. Public Sector Performance: Catch 22 type Dilemmas 
  18. BBC – Travel – Two days in Siena, Italy : Tuscany
  19. Interim Management: Seven Key Trends
  20. The Open Public Services White Paper, the Budget Deficit and Thirteen Key Reasons for the Government to Deploy Professional Interims for Risk Reduction?

To be honest, I still don’t really know what makes a great blog. Certainly I try to search out some excellent articles on breaking news but at the end of the day I just add my two cents. It’s never clear to me whether the hits are due to:

  • Title
  • Author of primary article (where appropriate)
  • Publisher of primary article  (where appropriate)
  • My two cents of commentary
  • My open questions
  • My photographs
  • My related articles

There is also another strange statistic. The most hits do not correlate with the most likes.

Anyway, taking the above list of twenty top blogs, let me try to distill a few underlying threads.

Firstly, it really surprised me than my most popular blog ever, was my reblog of the MailOnline article about Moritz Erhardt, the German intern, who died whilst working excessive hours at Bank of America, the investment bank. This was major news story, so I believe that my two cents on this occasion probably hit a nerve with worried students and parents. In a world where the millennials are missing out on the opportunities of earlier generations, this tragic story highlighted the extreme competitiveness of the aspiring top 1%. What’s happened to society when greed and ambition cause competition to the death, with a prevailing culture of winner take all?

The second important theme is probably my subjective insights into the interim management industry. Some of these blogs were written nearly three years ago, and I have moved on, so it is not clear to me whether I was a visionary or just angry with life in David Cameron’s UK?

The third important theme concerns a number of detailed blogs about the public sector in the UK. I took a hard-line but given the impact of three years of austerity, I believe that I was probably right. The amazing thing is that the public sector in the UK is still going to get much worse, in both cuts and reduced services. George Osborne’s financial projections into the next Parliament require still further aggressive cuts. Ahead of the election, politicians will look to the arguments that will win elections, rather than serious reform of the public sector. With the help of my fellow blogger, John Gelmini, I believe that this blog has provided some refreshingly different suggestions to tackle the challenges of the UK public sector.

The fourth theme that I would like to pick up is that people love quality travel articles. Perhaps, travel articles provide hope, and encouragement to many, or they are a form of escapism.  Anyway, the most fascinating blog was about the Cameron highlands in Malaysia. Rather than focusing on travel, I often wonder if a number of bloggers were looking for the ancestral home of David Cameron!

So to conclude with a common theme and an open question:

What’s David Cameron done for the Millennials?

A view of Fields and fields of...... Tea in Ca...

A view of Fields and fields of…… Tea in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any thoughts?

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The collapse of UK front-line public services under austerity: the case for ABC

English: David Cameron speaking at Eland House...

English: David Cameron speaking at Eland House, home of the Department for Communities and Local Government. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening, when I checked the stats on my various blogs, I was surprised to see that the following article was attracting an increasing number of hits, once again:

As I re-read the above blog, I was fascinated as to why it was so popular. I do not want to revisit the plight of teachers nor the collapse in education standards compared to international benchmarks. However, I am interested in generalizing across central and local government, looking for evidence-based policy; further I want to see both objective and subjective evidence. It’s not acceptable for ministers to rely on ideological motives alone, based on short-term political gain.

Before, I go on, let my declare my own political bias, I am a one-nation conservative, who favors small government and is passionately anti-bureaucracy.

As I think back over our blogs over the last three years, there has been widespread evidence of failure in David Cameron‘s leadership and government,  across both central and indirectly across local government too. As predicted, front-line services have been slashed and quality standards plummeted.

Yet I still maintain that there is enormous waste in central and local government; also there is an huge challenge to reduce EU bureaucracy, as well.  There are far too many levels of management, not enough consolidation. There are still massive opportunities to cut costs:

  • Taking a strategic approach to problem solving
  • Reducing political intervention
  • Eliminating restrictive work practices favored by trade unions
  • Deploying national service centers for front and back office operations;
  • Outsourcing all operational activities, apart from policy-making
  • Off-shoring non-strategic activities
  • Deploying private sector best-practice in procurement

It seems bizarre that the political classes and the bureaucrats are still wheeling-out their same old cronies, from the big consulting firms, who have been criticized by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Independent cost-effective, professionals, like interim managers, are very much seen as canon-fodder, commoditized to contract labor, typically described as contingency labor.

Some years ago, I was a specialist in strategic cost management systems. One popular technique was Activity-Based Costing (ABC). ABC simply analyzes all service activities into value-added and non-value-added. In the case of the previous example, with teachers, ABC would determine the percentage of teachers’ time effectively deployed on front-line services, viz. teaching.  ABC gives focus for waste reduction or consolidation and rationalization.

This blog has likened David Cameron to a political butterfly, flitting from one pretty flower to the next, e.g. gay marriage. Both my fellow-blogger John Gelmini and myself feel that David Cameron’s Government has been far too weak on public sector reform. Rather than using techniques like ABC and rationalizing non-value added services, Cameron’s ministers have let the ax fall on front-line services. George Osborne‘s treasury projections, as a baseline into the next government, call for continued austerity. Many feel that there will be a push-back as the economy picks up and Osborne’s projections will not be sustainable.

This blog has consistently argued in favor of:

  • Evidence-based policy
  • Broad vision statement
  • Comprehensive strategic evaluation of options
  • Radical reform
  • Effective delivery

Let me turn this to two open question:

  1. If the UK Government deployed Activity-Based Costing, what percentage of the of budgets on critical areas, like education and health etc. should be deployed on front-line services, adding value?
  2. Should the UK Treasury set targets for percentage of budgets deployed by front-line services?

Any thoughts?

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