Sine Iactura's General Approach to its Work

SINE IACTURA’S GENERAL APPROACH TO ITS WORK

 

If government economics in practice is about anything, it’s about sacrifice – of the less valuable for the more – and its about preparing to be able make the best economic decisions as circumstances change.

 

All the company’s representatives begin with this ethos (though each has an independent mind on the way any specific assignment or project should be tackled) and may be expected commence from this starting point to clarify initially - what the client perceives the problem to be solved to be.

 

At the conclusion of an assignment the company hopes to have made a contribution to improved work methods that have:

  1. a firm and correct general orientation;

  2. an industrious and simpler style of work, directed by flexible strategy and tactics.

That is what Sine Iactura representatives expect to find.

 

SDPC Research Institute of Investment in Roundtable DiscussionsSome good practices clients will notice at Sine Iactura include the following.

 

  • Make a List – Sine Iactura believes that there can only be one objective at any one tine moment. It may be subject to an array of constraints, one of which may for a time become a temporary objective, the former objective being relegated to the role of a constraint.

Doing the first thing that comes to mind not only leaves the economist (and his client) vulnerable to having a solution “pre suggested” but also undermines the value of the economic analysis of rival possibilities and so a good defence against choosing from an incomplete array of alternative courses of action is to always make an initial list and add to it as you go.

Making a list is the start of putting things into order of priority. At any moment there will be one central task. Planning puts the work to be done in order by time.

 

  • Record Details – By recording how long it takes to do something or cultivating a habit of continually conducting minor surveys to establish the rough values/measure of the subject at hand, professional judgment becomes more reliable. Future plans are improved.

Sine Iactura encourages the recording details of surveys whether in humble reporter’s notebooks or in more complex ways. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience and by starting from facts not arbitrary definitions. Noting interconnections lead to a many sided appreciation.

 

  • Practice When You Don’t Need To – Always a good rule. Knowing what to do is often much easier than how to do it, reliably. Practice saves time in the long run. Mankind makes continuous progress; nature undergoes constant change. To be of value, all experience should be summarised.

 

  • To Plan is to Foresee (Make a Risk Plan) – Sine Iactura uses a detailed work breakdown plan and keeps track of progress by meeting regularly as a consultant team (say, each Friday afternoon) and with the “client” as a Project Control Group (say each Monday morning).

Lists of threats to the success of a project from the unforeseen and of possible solutions are routinely made before bidding for an assignment, which includes preparing nominated alternates to a “key men” to assume control of the project if something serious happened to him, “dress rehearsing” and reviewing any trial surveys beforehand etc. To sumarise what has occurred, and in light of this what can be done differently in future, is the essence of scientific planning. Without preparation, there can be no initiative.

 

  • Never Give Up – Cross cultural assignments in particular require a special patience, which comes with practice and Sine Iactura representatives have learned from experience, particularly, the importance of the capacity to rebound from minor setbacks without displaying annoyance. When you show frustration, you lose momentum. When we don’t, we always do better.

A team Motto – Be united, alert, earnest and lively.

 

  • Contract Management – a specific area where foresight, planning, rehearsal and patience may all require to be exercised. Examples can include negotiating variations to initial expectations and fees, the surprise withdrawal of “key men” or other resources, or the difficulty of getting agreement from upper echelons within the client organisation to needed actions. Circumstances cannot stay still. Avoiding the extremes of dogmatism – a rigid view unresponsive to the changing world – on the one hand, and relativism – the negation of fundamental principles – are a must.

 

  • Clean the Project Office” – Something all Sine Iactura representatives are expected to do as part of our normal routine. There is much more to this than most people imagine. It includes a host of minutiae without which a consultancy may even cease.

For example, at the outset of establishing a remote project office it may include the collective choice of the office equipment, putting a calendar on the wall, having a whiteboard to record thoughts for later development (another form of listing and, as an aid to our recollection), and so on right down to really small inexpensive things like, for example in an international undertaking adding a pair of small intersecting national flags to go on a common desk top to an office equipment shopping list. Be personally humble and a student before you are a teacher.

 

  • Have a Risk Management Plan (for yourself, Sine Iactura) and Have More Than “One Path To Home” – To inbuild a type of redundancy Sine Iactura tries (within our small numbers) to work in pairs with one of the pair (not always the more senior) responsible for the completion of the task, but the other able to deputise at short notice if required.

In addition, all team members need to be aware that all staff need to be prepared to see the project through if other team members were withdrawn for any reason. Major initial steps in dealing with a client’s organisational structure include identifying which senior public servants are decisive (that Sine Iactura will deal with) and which ones (not always the same individuals) understood Sine Iactura’s position, even if they could not assist us directly though they wished to, but who may be a communication pathway to someone who could.

Relations between individuals and groups can be crucially important to final success. Most important is neither to only understand nor explain the world, but to change it (if it needs changing).

 

  • Fan of ReportsReport Writing and Planning Training Programs– Sine Iactura uses loose leaf folders to organize the chapters of reports which are initially developed by drafts being placed in a “storeroom” for collective review each one starting as a brief statement of the leading idea of that chapter (which we call “fat paragraphs”). There are two sides to this coin.

Assigning responsibility for chapters or training session topics gives a feeling of pride in the contribution of each of the team members – definitely a benefit - but it also makes it harder to “sew” the “storeroom” contributions together. Continual backtracking to the latest version of a report of draft presentation can be a nuisance, but it is also a plus because there is more thorough review.

Theory is dependent on practice – it should be based on practice and in turn serves practice.

 

 

  • The word “Sophistication” really means, unnecessarily complicated – (and in the same vein) modern gadgets and fads are not the essence of good technique.

Quite simple devices, relevant to the problem, are often sufficient (eg handwritten notes and drawings in a reporter’s notebook, simple calculations, making tables to organize related facts, a sceptical attitude to data, comparison with a relevant benchmark, inspection by walking around etc).

Sine Iactura’s own work methods are based on :

  1. a firm and correct general orientation;

  2. an industrious and simpler style of work directed by flexible strategy and tactics.

Test the correctness of ideas by action. In many situations, it is the public, ultimately that is decisive.

 

  • How to Make (=Specify) a Budget – Good budgeting is good record keeping. Like other practical things such as, say, running a competitive tender to get an improved result from a small urgent translating contact, an important thing to do is to first write down what is required from the overall program that may need to be expressed in two languages. There are no costs in the abstract – only different courses of action with their associated resource requirements.

Budget costs are just the money amounts required for that particular set of activities. The list of activities that define the budget sum is just as important as the money amount finally agreed.

“Debate” resolves contradictions – say, between the various departments and the whole government. In any government system, Treasury/MoF is always a special department.

 

Treasuries and Finance Ministries sit at the very heart of any system of public administration. Their methods are frequently confidential because of the nature of the information they handle.

 

Sine Iactura’s representatives are accustomed to this situation and understand the need for discretion. They expect that there will be things :

  • they cannot discuss with people other than some in Treasury/MoF; and

  • which Treasury/MoF cannot discuss with them, at all.

 

The essence of confidentiality is not secrecy but openness relative to the character and reputation of the person entrusted with the information. Sine Iactura representatives will never carelessly or ignorantly disclose confidential information as they have a deep experience in the work of similar organisations to Treasury or a MoF.

 

Sine Iactura’s managing director, Pete Bannister, demands that all Sine Iactura representatives have, like him, the capacity to understand the significance of the information they will need to see. Moreover, they will not wilfully infringe their pledge of confidentiality. Their reputations, built up over a period of many years, in his case over 40 years, are too valuable.

 

White Swan Listening 2005