Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Curse Of Investors In People


Investors in People is a strong contender for the inaugural BUMQAs.

IIP employs just 41 yet costs us £6m pa, reflecting its extraordinarily heavy spend on self-promotion. Of course, that £6m will be a gross understatement of total costs because it leaves out of account knock-on costs for the 40,000 UK organisations already operating under IIP "accreditation", and the thousands of others now working towards it. What's more, many of those organisations are in the public sector- even down to individual schools- so much of this additional cost falls directly on taxpayers.

IIP describes its "vision" as being "to increase the productivity of the UK economy by improving the way in which organisations manage and develop their people, leading to business improvement and better public services".

Needless to say, there is absolutely no evidence to show they are achieving that. The "Research & Statistics" section of their website just says: "We will be updating this section of the website shortly. Apologies for any inconvenience caused."

Hmm.

OK, how about the specific organisations IIP claims have improved? Let's take a look at the "case studies" it trumpets in its glossy Annual Report:
  • HMV- IIP brags: "The Investors in People Standard helped to accelerate the effectiveness of the company". The reality is that HMV has been very poorly managed and is in big trouble: over-expansion, disastrous Christmas sales, resignation of the CEO, and now a certain take-over target. Wonder what the new profit-driven owners will make of IIP's esteemed "business improvement" programme?
  • Co-operative Group- IIP brags: "The IIP Standard has helped by focusing on strategic planning and good communication". The reality is that the Co-op has just been voted by customers as one of Britain's three worst companies.

Or what about the many public sector organisations it claims to have helped? Take the Department For Work and Pensions. It's had full IIP accreditation for years and says it "will continue to implement the principles of IiP and of the Excellence Model, to support delivery of today’s business performance". You wonder what planet they're on: the shameful reality is that DWP is a notorious shambles, where a recent staff survey revealed only 6% of the staff have confidence in senior management.

Or take one of the many local authorities to have "won" accreditation. Take Liverpool City Council, accredited in 2003, yet two years later rated by the Audit Commission as being among the bottom 2% of councils in Britain.

If these are the best IIP has to offer, I think we can take it that the benefits are approximately nil. Unsurprising then that an IOD survey found 85% of companies do not think it improves profitability. It may even be worse that, since the more you investigate IIP's members, the more you see a pattern of decline and destruction. I'm wondering if it's another of those curses, like In Search of Excellence.

IIP is a nonsense: a classic bureaucratic box-ticking exercise with no useful impact on member organisations other than the logo on their letterhead. Nothing more.

In the heroically restrained words of Dan Lewis' BUMQA nomination: "It would be better to scrap it altogether".

Yes Dan, it would.

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