Yet Another Report

Yet Another Report

In order to solve real problems, maybe governments should not write yet another report.

One of my favorite articles ever about the Dutch government (sorry, no link) provided an overview of the number of reports the government was producing about reducing the size of the government. No less than two pages (newspaper-style) were needed to list all the committees, workgroups, and task forces that had been trying to get a grip on the size of the government. It seemed the question itself had spawned a whole industry of researchers, advisors and consultants who were all trying to find ways to help other civil servants out of their jobs.

My own thought was, “Why don’t they start by firing all these committees?”

The memory came to my mind when I was recently invited to advise a new government committee about the problem, “Why do so many IT projects fail?” Despite the fact that we already have dozens, if not hundreds, of such reports, it seems the government would rather like to start from scratch. Again.

To be honest, I know nothing else about this committee. I’m sure they have the best intentions, but I had to decline the invitation. It seems to me that assuming a root cause that merely needs to be discovered, asking experts for their input (unpaid, of course). and producing yet another report, is just another a symptom of the very problem they are trying to address in the first place.

My answer would be, “Maybe you should not write yet another report.”

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein

I’d say they could get closer to dissolving the real problem by moving outside of the building, making themselves a nice cup of coffee, and learning how to bake some cookies together. Or something.

When you have a problem, you might have a best chance at (dis)solving it by changing your thinking about the problem.

Which problems have you solved by not trying to solve them?

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