NewTalk tag:newtalk.org,2008-02-11://2 2013-06-05T16:30:37Z Where experts discuss America's toughest issues Movable Type Publishing Platform 4.02a NewTalkers in the News: Philip K. Howard Reviews Gawande, Stuart Taylor Discusses Bureaucracy tag:newtalk.org,2010://2.104 2010-01-21T16:01:30Z 2010-01-21T16:18:01Z In his review of Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, NewTalk founder and NewTalker Philip K. Howard argues that although a careful checklists that ensures cleanliness and safety might be life-saving in an operating room, Dr. Gawande’s theory falls short when... Admin In his review of Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, NewTalk founder and NewTalker Philip K. Howard argues that although a careful checklists that ensures cleanliness and safety might be life-saving in an operating room, Dr. Gawande’s theory falls short when he attempts to make the broader point that formal checklists are a key to success in nearly all aspects of daily life—as Dr. Gawande puts it: ”Checklists seem able to defend everyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws.” Dr. Gawande goes so far in one example as to suggest that a proper checklist can successfully delegate authority, which he contrasts with an ineffectual centralized bureaucracy. On the contrary, Howard contends that “giving someone the authority to use her judgment means relying on individual creativity and improvisation—the opposite of a checklist.” Howard notes that “bureaucracy is nothing but checklists.” “Accomplishment is personal,” Howard concludes. “Dr. Gawande is right to note that checklists are indispensable in situations where a small mistake can lead to tragic consequences, as in surgery. But his call for a broad checklist regime would be counterproductive—fraught with all the dangers of bureaucracy and excessive law.” [Wall Street Journal]

In his most recent column in the National Journal, NewTalker Stuart Taylor addresses the “calcification” of American democracy, arguing that “governments at all levels” are seemingly unable to meet America’s challenges. Taking up an argument often made by Philip K. Howard, Taylor states that special interest groups - who, since the 1960s have “pressed governments and courts to elevate their ‘rights’ … over the public good" - are partly to blame for this governmental dysfunction. Taylor quotes Howard who argues that, over time, this deference to self-interests “has created a ‘jungle of law, growing denser every year, that has submerged individual responsibility to do what makes sense under a deluge of rules and rights, and paradoxically undermined everyone's freedom.’” Taylor quotes Howard further, relating his argument that: “Individual responsibility should be the principle by which America reforms its public institutions …. Americans increasingly feel frustrated and powerless because law has corroded the hierarchy of responsibility needed for anything to work.” [National Journal]

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