Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow in Scotland - more systemic effects

Drennan writes:  'By the way, regarding systemic effects of the snow, here are a few more.

1) We all need food supplies etc but of course the big stores are all operating on the "Just  in Time" system - which  means a delay of a day or so means the stores start running out of food.

2) People hear about this difficulty on the news and so they buy twice as much as usual to "stock up" - except for the indigenous rural Scots who stock up at the start of November every year - and the result is the shops empty quicker.

3) This is all made worse by the fact that the TESCOs and ASDAs have outcompeted the small town centre bakeries etc which have often closed.  The TESCOs etc of course buy in bulk from bulk producers and hence the great majority of the bread eaten in Scotland is all made in three huge bakeries near Glasgow.

4) However, once an articulated lorry delivering supplies jack-knifes on a  motorway, huge traffic jams build up behind it and breakdown vehicles or road gritters that would make the road driveable can not get through. A few of these and the whole system jams up! We have of course developed a delivery system largely dependent on just in time deliveries by large lorries, and business based mainly on car commuting workers who get caught in the snarlups.

5) This of course means tankers cannot reach the main oil refinery, which means that petrol stations start running out of fuel for sale, which means even those that can move to deliver may run out of fuel.

6) In the meantime, amid the political blame game that is going on, the first minister for Scotland announces that we will have to get used to more such extreme weather conditions in Scotland - enter Climate Change.

All the best - it is thawing now but forecast to freeze up by Monday'

Thursday, December 09, 2010

News from Scotland

A report from my friend Drennan.   The systemic effects are readily apparent!

'Just to let you see we are buried in it here. We have about one metre with plenty freeze thaw cycles to create icy roads, huge icicles hanging from buildings and traffic chaos. The central belt of Scotland was caught completely off guard and ended up with miles of motorway filled with hundreds of cars filled with people overnighting in them at -17 degrees centigrade. My sister .. ended up marooned at her daughter's house and her daughter marooned at her mother's house after abandoning her car on the motorway and walking miles overland to a functioning railway station to get some transport.

Meanwhile, we have been going down to -20 centigrade at night. A thaw is forecast but I hope to goodness it is a slow one or here come the floods!  This could be a long hard winter here. It is only the start of December,
the volcanic explosion in Iceland has created a dust layer, the Gulf  Stream (North Atlantic Drift) has weakened, and El Nino  is doing things that encourage a cold season also.

The last broadcaster who referred to a Winter Wonderland  has been strangled and another was taken to the edge of the village and snowballed to death.

We stay at home and drive nowhere. We couldn't go many places. All the hill passes seem to be permanently blocked. Nobody has any winter tyres for sale - they all went to Germany. Hope all goes well with all of you.'

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Effective use of Systems in policy review and development

The Munro Review of Child Protection in England by Professor Eileen Munro of  LSE  has released a first report entitled: 'A Systems Analysis'.   It is recommended reading for anyone interested to see how good systems thinking and practice can help to frame and structure an important inquiry such as this one.  It also highlights the role that Systems capability can play in formulating public policy and effecting good governance.  David Lane, Reader in Management Science at LSE is providing expertise in Systems in support of the review.

In introducing this report Prof. Munro describes how it: 

'sets out the systems approach I am taking to understand how reforms interact and the effect these interactions are having on practice. It is at the front line where they come together, at present creating an imbalance and distortion of practice priorities.'

In outlining the report's approach to Systems is argued that:

'A systems approach will help this review to avoid looking at parts of the child protection system in isolation, and to analyse how the system functions as a whole. Social workers and other professionals accept many previous reforms were well intended but their interaction and cumulative effect on frontline practice have had unintended consequences. A systems approach will help to understand how and why previous reforms have had both beneficial and adverse consequences and how the review might improve how the system supports social workers and other professionals to protect children and young people better in the future.

The review will use systems theory in two ways. First, the review will look back at past reforms to explain what has happened, with systems theory providing a strong basis to build the review’s understanding. Second, the intention is to use systems theory analysis to look forward – with systems theory helping the review design an improved approach. The first leads naturally to the second since what is needed is a stronger understanding of the system and analysis of how aspects of the system interact with each other before the review recommends any further changes.'

For more background see this clip or this article