It may be time for Tickbox of the Year


Which example would you nominate for Tickbox of the Year – what I called in the Evening Standard yesterday, examples of “the stupidification and hollowing out of our organisations”?

Of course, I have no power or resources to hold such a competition, but it should be organised by someone – though probably not be me.

But let me share my nominations:

  1. Sopra Steria, the Home Office contractor that runs UK visa applications (more about them day).
  • myHermes and other service companies that have such faith in their own systems that the provide no way to get help when anything goes wrong.
  • The train operating companies, for – well, you can probably guess, but for running their services by numbers rather than for passengers.

My Standard article was about why everyone seems so angry these days (because they are nudged, tickboxed and patronisingly ignored by organisations that promised to give them something more like a reciprocal relationship). But since writing it, I have run across perhaps the perfect example of tickboxing in what might be known as ‘action’ (thanks, Caroline).

A fascinating article about digital health in by Caroline Molloy quotes Shelley Turkle, who describes watching a woman who had just lost a child taking about her loss to a robot disguised as a baby seal.

“It seemed to me,” says Turkle, “that we all had a stake in outsourcing the thing we do best – understanding each other, taking care of each other….”

There in a nutshell is the problem with Tickbox – it makes us believe the very human abilities we have to deal with each other and to make things happen are so unimportant that the they can be subcontracted to a machine.

The trouble is, I’m not sure who to nominate for this egregious example. But let me ask again what I asked in the Standard – who would you nominate for Tickbox of the Year? Or is it an open and shut case for on e of the Grenfell Tower contractors or suppliers?

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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