Checking the Planners and Planning the Checkers

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Experience means you have history in some area of life. With experience, you start to notice how things change over time. In research, for example, scientists used to plan an experiment before actually doing it. Planning meant designing the experiment, deciding how to run the experiment, choosing what to measure and how to measure it, and taking steps to avoid an accident. Scientists planned their experiments based on expertise and knowledge of the work, and added other expertise to the team as needed to help make the work a success.

Then times changed in research, and in many other areas of work. Activities that used to start with a plan now required someone to check the plan before the work began and again during its execution. Sponsors and regulators wanted to avoid risks, so they wanted plans to check the plan. Then a plan for writing the plan and a plan to implement the plan. Each of those plans needed someone to check and approve them, too. With so many checkers someone had to plan for the necessary checking. So, bureaucracy, administration, and management became growth industries as we added planners to plan the checkers and checkers to check the planners. Science, construction, education, medical care, public agencies; they all seem to fall prey to this growth industry.

Think this is all a joke? A news article last week speculated that most of the new federal relief/stimulus money going into education would wind up in teacher salaries. That would be nice, but administrative overhead (i.e., planners and checkers) will likely be first at the trough. Are you surprised? Who wants to do the detective work to follow the money?

One thought on “Checking the Planners and Planning the Checkers

  1. Seems to me the powers that be count on the detective work being difficult enough that nobody will try to follow the money. Truth buried (well concealed?) in bureaucracy.


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