Decisions Blog

You cannot control that which you do not monitor

Management, said Peter Drucker, … means, in the last analysis, the substitution of … of knowledge for folklore and superstition… (from People and Performance)

It is just over a year since the Audit Commission published the In the Know report. This showed a quite startling link between the effective use of Management Information by Councils and outcomes of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) – see Fig 1 on page 10.

Good management information:

  • pinpoints where things are going wrong and remedial action is required (e.g. a fall-off in loans for an item, site or class of user or a drop in the numbers of visitors or PC bookings)
  • provides opportunities for pro-active experimentation (e.g. monitoring the issue performance of new sorts of material, or assessing the usefulness of publicity aimed at particular classes of user)
  • assists in tuning and optimising ongoing processes like stock selection and staff rostering. For example a university library might want more staff to help with enquiries during the day, and more coffee-shop staff in the evening when the main use of the library is study, reading and computer use.
  • Do suggest other things to add to this list using the comment facility (or make any other observations that you wish on this topic)

However a word of warning: as the “In the Know” report also highlighted, information is expensive. Furthermore, too much of it risks losing the few important bits of information in a blizzard of trivia. I’ll return to this point in a later post.