What do we learn from the CQC cover-up?

That it is is the consequence of managerialism, the ideology that tells us that management is generic, and therefore you can manage macaroni or museums or mausoleums, it makes no difference.

Someone involved in health, commented on the CQC crisis, quoting the adage “fish rot from the head”.



Bob Garratt wrote an excellent book of that title, aimed at board members and their roles and responsibilities.




The Fish Rots from the Head Summary | Bob Garratt | PDF …





Can we please begin to nurture a culture of vast scepticism about managerialism and its careerist, pension-seeking advocates?


Some public servants do it for love, still. Bless.

2 thoughts on “What do we learn from the CQC cover-up?

  1. This latest example of malfeasance raises some interesting questions, at least one of them presumably existing since organisations were thought of as bounded entities: who watches the watchers? Well, follow the logic through of believeing that we need ‘watchers’ (CQC, Ofsted so on, and so on) and you find yourself in the world of infinite regress: there’s always got to be someone watching someone else. Not, perhaps, the best starting point. Now, I have no practical suggestions to offer, but we can at least notice a paradox, or an internal contradiction: it seems to me that organisations such as schools, hospitals and so forth can really only function on the basis of trust. We – you and I – generally go to a hospital, a care home, or send a child to a school, underpinned by the assumption that we can trust the institutions and therefore necessarily the people who work in them. Yet the very fact of having oversight bodies is testament to the idea that trust cannot be relied upon. But, as soon as you doubt a trust-based relationship, you destroy the grounds on which it stands. And since over-sight bodies are part of the wider system, they too are necessarily prey to the same maladies that can afflict the subject of their attentions. I think this leads to the question: what are the conditions that create and sustain trust-based organisations? This is to conceive of the organisations/institutions as potential examples of moral enterprise, rather than starting from a focus on structures and functions. Where this leads, well, Arthur, you may know. It wouldn’t surprise me. And it would certainly interest me to hear. Regards, Bernard

    • Hi Bernard. Always enjoy your thoughts. Your brain is oriented several degrees away from my ‘North’ (a distinction, not a value judgment) so your perspective allows me to triangulate my position, in the manner of a GPS.

      and thank you for your praise/flattery.

      “I think this leads to the question: what are the conditions that create and sustain trust-based organisations?

      Good question. All well-formed questions contain the seeds of their own answer, said a sage. We need better questions.

      ”This is to conceive of the organisations/institutions as potential examples of moral enterprise, rather than starting from a focus on structures and functions.“

      Not sure what a moral enterprise is, though I have inklings. Public service is an example of one, no doubt, as is eradication of smallpox? Hope you will explain and direct my wikipeedery.

      Certainly a focus on structure and function is dumb. Why? Brevity and haste don’t allow, but here are some pointers:

      Apologies for this rushed verbiage, my life is very stressed and hectic for next few weeks, yet this is very important to me.

      Spandrels – Stephen Jay Gould, and evolutionary theory and the problem of teleolgical thinking.

      Emergence – famous slightly fatuous and sem-misleading example flocking ‘rules’, no ‘rule’ that says form a flock (‘rules’ because these are not rules as humans understand them so much as systemic tendencies that have utility for the entity).

      Structure and function are descriptors of a set of emergent properties manifest in a CAS (complex adaptive system) and ‘health’ is certainly a CAS as is government. You can’t command a flock, you can influence its behaviour if you have command of its energy/resource needs. (for an insight in this,well understood as part of black arts of politics, ask me about level 5 NVQs and the baroness cabinet minister but later, not now.)

      Autopoiesis – the autopoietic behaviour of an entity is governed by the coevolution of its need to reproduce and and maintain itself, in a structural coupling with its environment [that’s oversimplified a lot]. CQC is structurally coupled (structural here refers to a pattern of persistent organisingality, organisation as a verb not a noun) to its environment (government,and other key players [stupid phrase. public aren’t key because they don’t control resources like food or energy supplies]

      Biology of organisation – without food/energy living systems die. Without money etcetera quangos die. They constantly resource-seek and ‘satisfice'(Herbert Simon), thus stimuli (dumb idea, the entity’s model of the environment determines what it perceives as a stimulus, says Maturana’s Santiago model of cognition) better to say perturbations, which are not responded to as commands, but are processed autopoietically. Thus we can’t predict a response. Example – punishing school children – their learned resonses is unlikely to be the ‘correct’ one. Skinner understood this, knowing the power of positive reinforcement. Government doesn’t ‘shape behaviour’ in a Skinnerian sense [or ‘nudge’ in a nudge unit sense, even] it just dumps vast bales of fodder into the environment in a semi-random way and then goes away. What would your cat learn or do, if you only fed it once a month with a months supply of food? Would other cats be attracted? What would the neighbours think? Etc.

      Sorry if this is gloriously obscure and pretentious. It is not half-baked conceptually but it is unbaked presentationally. Trust me, I can make a superb meal with these ingredients, but I’m currently acting merely as the Ocado van driver delivering a present of food from a friend. Sign here mate.

I love comments, all comments…

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s