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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Innovation and the 'middle' in NHS computing

Let's start with a quote:

Information systems are no longer associated mainly with data processing; they are increasingly seen as a management tool and an aid to action. This means that the costs of failure are much greater, and these costs are incurred when expensive systems are not used or are inadequately used. Surveys have shown that in as many as half of systems there are large gaps between users' expectations and the system's performance.
When do you think the above was written?

Here's the reference:

Mumford Enid (1991) Need for relevance in management information systems: what the NHS can learn from industry. BMJ. June 29; 302(6792): 1587–1590
1991: quite sobering really.

Previous - part-time - work reviewing data standards proposals focuses the mind in terms of the role of standards in interoperability, service impact and other essential assessment qualities. As the NHS has sought to implement standards as with the National Programme for IT you are also aware of the clamour for creativity and innovation. Innovation is there in the title of agencies.

I have long pondered about the extent to which - like Nature and vacuums - standards abhor innovation and creativity. How much is the 'standard' about doing things by the 'book' ... page 57 : para.3 ...

My eye caught the viewpoint piece in this week's Computing -
If you approach the world positively, a downturn is a good time for innovation. The shortage of people and money can create the pressure that leads to creativity. There are three areas where action will help organisations succeed in exploiting IT to enable business innovation:

Kick out Prince2

What more is there to say about innovation and Prince2? The focus of the Prince2 project management methodology – on organisation and control, and defining what to deliver before you have begun – is death to innovation.
It is a bad solution trying to solve the wrong problem. It takes the IT profession in the wrong direction if we want to contribute to business
innovation. It has to go. The agile development movement provides much stronger foundations for succeeding with projects that result in business innovation.
Ashurst, Colin, Viewpoint: How to use IT to enable innovation, Computing, 5 November, 2009.
Of course there IS a world of difference between information standards and project management standards, but there is no escape from the need for (effective) management of transition and change WITH business continuity. Within that management - engagement approach (as per agile) -

+++++++ socio-technical +++++++

- perspectives, as highlighted by Mumford (and others) all those years ago must have a place.

Additional links:

Computing, Letter of the week, UK is cursed with an anti-innovation culture, 5 November

BCS Sociotechnical Specialist Group

eHealthNews NHS Bury Primary Care Trust Goes Live with iSOFT Lorenzo RC 1.9

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