Thursday, March 22, 2007

Accountability or 'Accountabalism'

Accountability is destroying creativity.

Accountability has gone terribly wrong says David Weinberger, a marketing consultant, whose latest book is named 'Everything is Miscellaneous'.

'Accountabalism' is the , 'practice of eating sacrificial victims in an attempt to magically ward off evil.'

Weinberger says we have been, 'lured by the myth of precision'. Accountabalism 'suggests there is a right or wrong answer to every question' and that we can measure all results exactly.

'Accountabalism' has well and truly spread to schools where compliance and the need to measure selected achievement targets to prove success is the name of the game.

Accountabalism, according to Weinberger, is premised on two seductive myths.

1 Systems go wrong because of individuals

2 The right set of controls will enable those who know best to prevent individuals from creating disasters.

The real problem of accountabalism is that accountability measures allow us to live in state of denial about how little control we as individuals have over our environment.

Accountabalism believes that when things go wrong the answer is to impose yet another level of accountability; more forms, more compliance. The trouble is this imposition is at the sacrifice of creativity , innovation and adaptability.

Schools will be well aware of the above problems.

Accountabalism assumes perfection. The trouble is organisations are not machines and even machines break down. Schools are not capable of anything near perfection so things 'go wrong' a lot. This is natural and does not mean the system is broken and does not require heavy handed compliance processes, or schools trying to self delude themselves by pretending all is well.

Accountabalism ignores human nature and, 'underestimates the twistiness of human minds and motivations.' Accountabalism refuses to 'acknowledge how people think and work differently' vital if creativity and initiative is to be encouraged.

As a result of all this mono cultures are created ( a 'one size fits all mentality') that are disastrous for innovation and, as well, it 'makes work no fun'.

So accountabalism, while it claims to increase individual responsibility ( the so called 'self managing' schools) , drives out professionalism and human judgement creating in the process low trust cultures with policies and procedures to follow for everything.

Accountabilism Weinberger says, 'has squeezed centuries of thought about how to entice people towards good behaviors' . Morality and professional judgement have been bureaucratized to the point that too many of us now believe we can exert any control at all.

As we move into a creative era our organisation, particularly schools, are encouraging a seriously dysfunctional compliance mindset.

What we need to do is to put pressure on those who have subverted our creativity and start to develop our schools as learning organizations capable of organic growth able to respond to the needs of their communities and students.

Down with accountability - up with creativity!

PS We have had enough of Ministry C.R.A.P. - Ministry continually revising all procedures.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... this is so the blog post I needed today when I was trying to make this point in a more round about way today in the staffroom! Think I'll email the link to a few people.
Jody

Tom said...

Good one Bruce. School's are human places - learning is about making mistakes, trial and error !

The reality shows practice this accountabilism too - make a mistake, displease the host or even be last - and you will be voted off !

What we need to do is to put pressure on those who have subverted our creativity and start to develop our schools as learning organizations capable of organic growth able to respond to the needs of their communities and students.

Who are those people ?

Bruce said...

'Those' people are those left over from the market forces technocratic managerial era ( the 90s) who believe that people can be given 'freedom' to comply with imposed measureable rational curriculums - a sort of 'free market Stalinism'. And they exist at all levels -controlling others is easier than trust and creativity within agreed beliefs!

Life as you say Tom is 'enlightened trial and error' - and always 'next time'!

This supposed freedom to achieve what is felt required creates what some call a 'corrosion of character' as people try to guess what others want. This kills creativity!

Greetings Jody

SC said...

I'm sending it to a couple of people too!