The National Audit Office states that “the Government has reorganised 91 departments across Whitehall since May 2005, at an annual cost of £200 million”. The article goes on to say that “25 central government departments had been created since 1980 but 13 of these no longer exist.” Clearly this isn’t just a Labour issue.
That is £1 billion over 5 years with little discernible benefit.
Why don’t reshuffles work? A handful of suggestions for you:
1. Reshuffles by their nature impact people’s position and power; consequently there is always a lot of effort expended by employees vying for position, time that could be spent more productively.
2. Reshuffles lead to organisational rebranding, desk moves, redundancies and mergers, little of which changes productive output.
3. Form should follow function, not the other way around. Changing an organisations design will only improve delivery if the way that the work is done is changed as a result.
4. There is no substitute for experience. If you are sitting in a burning building I guess you would like a fireman to come and pull you out who has 5 or 10 years experience, not one who is on his first shout. It is difficult to gain real experience if you have a new job every year.
In a related article the National Audit Office also states that the government has wasted £2 billion on abandoned IT projects. I wonder how many of these abandonments were caused by reshuffles and subsequent loss of sponsorship.
As the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there and before you know it you are talking about real money.