About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

Recent Blog Posts...

Hijacking Procurement
Ken Cole
Mar 25, 2013
Mr Pickles uses the 'P word'.
Ken Cole
Mar 07, 2013
Haringey Leads London
Ken Cole
Feb 14, 2013
Time to rethink Supplier Evaluation
Ken Cole
Aug 30, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors in Whitehall!
Ken Cole
Jul 12, 2012
Collaboration at its best
Ken Cole
May 25, 2012
Latest Procurement Card Scare
Ken Cole
Mar 21, 2012
iESE - a model for a Big Society?
Ken Cole
Mar 06, 2012
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
Ken Cole
Feb 03, 2012

Does repeating mistakes come with the job?

Jul 14, 2008


An old boss of mine at the Home Office once remarked that people will always choose to repeat mistakes that others have made even when they are told how to avoid making them. At the time, I found that comment strange but having observed quite a few diverse organisations since then; he has maintained a 100% record of being spot on.

 The recently dissolved Regional Centres of Excellence (RCEs) learned the hard way back in 2005. After having been accused of failing to deliver, the nine RCEs shaped up and set about delivering some exciting projects which have delivered real cashable savings. Mistakes were made, but building a new organisation from scratch to act as a catalyst for change is a tough assignment for any one! As with many things, three years down the line they had really started to deliver which is always the prompt to reorganise. As an amusing aside, I sometimes think that there are secret devotees of the late Chairman Mao promoting 'permanent revolution' working in government, particularly in the NHS.

 However, returning to the point, the RCEs have now been subsumed into Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs). Their remit contains the efficiency agenda but also improvement and there is a national strategy to provide a sense of purpose and direction. They also have much more money at their disposal than the RCEs. The RIEPs are pivotal in helping councils deliver on both efficiency and the quality of services they provide. If they build on the work of the RCEs they can provide an example for the UK public sector. The question in my mind is will they take the easy option and learn from the RCE experiences? Or will my old boss keep up his 100% record?


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