Known as the inventor of modern management, Peter Drucker first wrote of the deadly sins of public administration in 1980, where he outlined six things that organizations can do to guarantee non-performance (guaranteed failure if committing two or more of the following):
1. Have a lofty objective, such as a purpose statement (i.e. health care, safety, help the poor), rather than clear, measurable targets/activities that can be achieved as objectives.
2. Do too many things at once – have no priorities.
3. Commit too many resources (i.e. “throwing money at problems,” overstaffing) to solve problems (rather than seeking efficient solutions).
4. Fail to pilot test new programs or build on small scale successes in similar programs.
5. Fail to learn from previous experience – fail to plan for success and fail to review to examine strengths, weaknesses, limitations.
6. Resist or fail to abandon an idea or project when it has proven useless or invaluable.
Think of an example of a federal, state, or local public safety project that failed or suffered from one or more of these sins (or a personal example from an organization that you participated in). Describe the project and discuss how it failed/suffered.
Drucker, P. F. (1980). The deadly sins in public administration. Public administration review, 40(2), 103-106.
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