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Covid19: “all countries are perfectly designed to get the results that they do”

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I’m not overly persuaded by the many comparisons of Covid19 testing and death rates in different countries.

When I run benchmarking skills workshops we talk about 3 levels of benchmarking: Metrics, Process and Culture. Metrics tell you “what the performance is”; Process tells you “how that performance was achieved” and Culture tells you “why” those processes achieved the particular level of performance.

Just comparing the metrics ignores processes (such as testing regimes, lockdown processes and timing) and the cultural issues such as compliance and enforcement.

There’s a quote I use in relation to organisation design: “All organisations are perfectly designed to get the results that they do”.

For Covid19: “all countries are perfectly designed to get the death rates that they do”.

Whatever any government says about its strategy is for dealing with Covid19, it’s worth remembering Peter Drucker’s quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Benchmarking metrics is easy, but tells you very little about how to improve.  Benchmarking processes tells you how others do what they do, but only if you understand process thinking and process management.  Adding in an understanding of the “soft stuff” helps explain why they get the performance that they do and is probably the most difficult area to adopt/adapt for your own use.

David Spiegelhalter and Sylvia Richardson said recently:

“Finally, it’s tempting to link a country’s statistics to the measures they have taken to control the virus: for example, has Sweden’s more relaxed policy been as effective as lockdown? But countries differ in so many ways: basic demographics, compliance and social networks, testing capacity and policy, health service characteristics and so on.”

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