Why do the decision makers ignore their customers?
Last week in my gym I saw a notice stating how the gym was going to be improved that night with a major re-organisation of equipment and that this represented an exciting new development in the evolution of the gym and that all members would benefit.
Naturally I was intrigued, partly due to the fact that to keep me sane from my academic duties the gym provides a vital function for me and woe betide anyone who messes with my space! As a paying customer I was somewhat concerned that no one had asked me what I wanted in this so called improvement. On enquiring I found out that the large stretching spaces were going to be dramatically increased and what was seen as old weight based equipment that characterise most gyms were being removed to allow for more group based activities and new total body workouts using the latest techniques. The personal trainer assured me that this was the future for gyms.
Personally I was relieved as the lack of stretching spaces in most gyms is a serious weakness and the fact that it was being expanded was great for me but wearing my academic hat for a moment there was something deeply disturbing about this top-down decision with tokenistic consultation and surprise, surprise huge member dissatisfaction. Now where have we seen this before?.
This personal case resonates sharply with government policy and resultant decision making, reflecting a disturbing and increasingly common trend for decisions to be made on a limited case which fails to take into consideration all possible viewpoints. |Once the decision is in the public domain under detailed scrutiny it gets exposed to such viewpoints leading to an ever increasing number of policy reversals. So selling off of government owned forests, NHS reforms, pasty taxes, charity taxes, HS2, green economy or the NPPF. Policy is made in haste without prior and full public consultation as good consultation takes time and money. Bluntly this is crazy decision making bordering on arrogance and serves notice of the importance of getting a good decision making process model into operation. There are only so many reversals that can take place before people start questioning the competence of government.
At the time of writing HS2 has not been reversed but the indications is that it will be in light of the public opposition (from its own voters) and the cost and the increasingly suspect economic models used to justify the case. The issues revolve around the process by which the decision is made.
So back to my gym; the lesson for us all is that changes need input from users and customers before formulating a preferred view leading to policy decision. Ironically this is the hallmark of good spatial planning practice.
In the pursuit of short term cost savings such processes are being bypassed because the decision maker thinks that they know best and using selective evidence can justify any approach on behalf of all its customers. I suspect it will be the very same customers who then proverbially will come back to bite that decision maker on the bum