About Simon Perks

Writer, trail runner, hill walker, astronomer, kayaker, paddleboarder, photographer, nerd, tea drinker, lover of the sea, labrador wrangler

When targets miss the mark

Whether it’s government administration or corporate strategy, it’s invariably only a matter of time until the subject of performance targets rears its head. From market share to how quickly you get seen in the emergency department, we have a target for that. The irony, though, is that setting a target can actually make is less likely that we’ll achieve what we want to achieve, rather than more. It’s the law, in fact: Goodhart’s law.

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Understanding project constraints

There’s no such thing as the perfect project. Because the perfect project would come with unlimited time, unlimited resources and a big yellow ribbon to tie on top of it when it’s done. But even the best projects run into constraints. We need to identify, acknowledge and consciously manage these constraints. Otherwise, they end up managing us.

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My first academic paper. And it’s perhaps not what you’d expect.

Overcoming the Regulatory Hurdles for the Production of Hand Sanitizer for Public Health Protection: The UK and US Academic Perspective explores the issues faced by researchers at the University of Bristol as they sought to manufacture hand sanitiser for use by public services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes a perspective from those doing the same in the United States

The Bristol academics making the hand sanitiser, who are colleagues of my wife, kindly provided me with a massive supply of hand sanitiser for the school where I’m a governor, which allowed the school to remain open to its most vulnerable young people. I helped to write this paper as a ‘thank you’ for their efforts. It’s published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemical Health and Safety. Read the paper online or get the PDF here.

It’s that time again…

Image of emails being sent

The latest issue of the Sockmonthly, my monthly newsletter, is hot off the press.

There’s talk of strategic planning in times of uncertainty, what makes local government tick and the importance of financial scrutiny.

We also discover why the best way to get more done is to spend some quality time doing nothing. There’s a round-up of interesting things I’ve come across. And the now-obligatory Labrador photo of the month.

Read this month’s Sockmonthly now. And if you like what you see, sign up here to get the next issue direct to your inbox.

An introduction to local government

Local government lies at the heart of the public services. Our councils play a vital role in keeping the wheels of society turning, yet they remain a mystery to many outside the sector. And to some in it.

So I’m writing an introductory guide to local government in England, which will explain what local government is, what it does and how it’s funded. It will explore what makes our councils tick. And it will, hopefully, give a flavour of the complex challenges that they face.

Because I’m writing the guide around my other work, I’m publishing each chapter as it’s ready. Otherwise, we might be waiting for some time. You can read what I’ve written so far, and learn about my plans for the rest of the guide, on my local government insight page.