The Abstract Centre of Organisation (Best Use of Funds)

By David M. Green

There appear distant plans to establish the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre (WBRC) with an office and a paid employed officer/manager to run the centre. Implying WBRC would then be paying much funding for office space, a salary, buying computers and ancillaries. Computer methods result in no actual requirement to have a central office: the local centre has become an abstraction. The national centre is physically consequent of history, as the information is not now tied down to a place. People can work from home using their own computers. They can meet in their own houses if they want. Then money is not spent on office space and buying initial equipment and travel to the office. This analysis is correctly well recognised especially in the information and academic category in which the WBRC falls. The work of maintaining the WBRC records, analysis and organisation can then be divided out to those who have understanding of species groups, surveyors, etc, computer specialists and analysts, intellectuals (redundant apparently in this passive culture), administrative workers and other useful workers. You do not need a physical office to do all that, particularly not locally. People can (be paid to) work at home for results far more economically than by running a WBRC office space, whether anyone is paid or not paid. Ideally money should be directed towards surveying, not offices and office-days. Presently WBRC invertebrate surveying is largely a spare time or a retired person's activity, to useful result but there is no call to be biased only in this direction (maintaining the situation) as if no one available and capable for paid survey. I am available for example, and I would expect to be paid only for result, if the funds become available.

It's necessary to have good organisation to maintain the quality of the records. It's not necessary to have physical local WBRC office and staff to achieve this. Surveyors have their own computers. Surveyors understand the data they generate for the groups they cover, with local specialists and national recording schemes. Part of surveying should be to maintain the database as it results in organised own records. The final significance of the data can only be determined with reference to national records. Further analysis of data can be done anywhere in the country on any computer assuming the data is satisfactory. Information is stored and transferred by phone or floppy discs so there is no need for offices of paper files with staff at a particular place, the national data centre has become redundant. Family national recording schemes are already analysing data and providing information this system works and results in for example national RDBs and improvement to the database software. In Worcestershire surveyors are ideal to consider local analysis What's needed is good organisation, which is a matter of intellect, making use of the capable people where they are; providing manuals to use good software and make analysis; dividing the work in a organised way matched to capabilities and interests. Not the other way round. People tend to look for solidity in terms of positions of people, and the organisation, instead of the essentials.

There is a general strong social tendency to build the organisation (following examples) generally, rather than build the intellect and essential progress of the organisation. The BRC is an organisation to gain species distribution data and analysis, making nature conservation of species effective, to the general widespread societal benefit of biodiversity. It is deceptively easiest to build organisations. Once people in organisations have started to copy, or follow experience, then people are doing what they believe (not what they understand they have worked out for themselves). There is a natural tendency for people to move into belief mode as a result of their experience and influences. Unfortunately beliefs cut out the difficult intellectual effort especially in organisations and in the analysis of organisations. Formalised methods referring to such qualities as qualifications, experience, and organisational structure, can easily result in the organisation a step removed from analysing the requirements, thus determining the organisation derivative of history (in personnel and structure). Further, the methods may be dated as the organisation follows previous examples, for example publicity, computer methods, social concepts of organisation and development of intellect. When an organisation develops, particularly an organisation that has societal purpose, such as makes steps towards more funded work, these hazards become more abundant. If Wildlife Trusts were intellectually stronger over the breadth required, including the social sciences, general philosophy and organisation management, we would have a better state of knowledge today and more effective organisation with more funding of basic areas necessary to charitable conservation such as knowledge of species distribution which is basic. As it is we have non-governmental conservation organisations that publicise they are people-organisations or suchlike. These organisations are people organisations not in the charitable purpose intended. The publicity, the organisation-culture, methods and developments are confusable with the culture. The charitable environment of encouragement does little for the intellect. It is easy to use money to employ people working away. A good example might be made of the old Manpower Services Commission that was supposed to administrate the creation of jobs useful to society for the unemployed. During this period, the MSC employed within itself as many people as were being employed on the work schemes. Organisations tend to think in terms of progress by building themselves. Further (e.g. a resultant of organisation building) people are employed, not because they show great capability but because they would appear to fit, they show standard experience and qualification that supports their value, representative of the organisation, they are deserving, and the decision expressed as a standard decision easier on the intellect of the selectors and the consensus. In surveys of organisations, employers say they would not employ 50% of the people they have, given a second chance.

A more encouraging view is redundant. Criticism is desirable. Otherwise critical thinking required fails to flourish: examples are followed, a step removed from the analysis required, as if such a state was the appropriate nature of organisation management. Whole organisations might so diagnosed thus, but normally at least part of the organisation is affected, so critical analysis is not a popular analysis to make when review is most required. For one reason organisation management may be difficult to understand. Organisers opinion cultural position rather than analyse, without the difference being noted. Organisation management is not natural of experience, and training is not a solution, as actors become set.

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