Taking a sceptical view undermines nothing, even when digitising the LPA service, says Kathleen Hall.
There’s something to be said for a bit of negativity. I’m not talking about Cassandra-like warnings that we’re all doomed (although it is worth noting that Cassandra's sound advice was dismissed to the detriment of Troy). But a good dose of healthy scepticism can stave off disaster.
Take the government’s plans to fully digitise the lasting power of attorney (LPA) service. Under the proposals, the Office of the Public Guardian wants the whole process to be completed online ‘removing the need for paper forms’.
Clearly there are huge benefits to creating better online public services, but the government is yet to explain how the fully digital process will work.
Creating a system that has to allow vulnerable people to securely identify themselves online, along with the person they are granting the power of attorney to and the lawyer involved is no easy task.
Without the cold, hard gaze of a critical eye to spot potential pitfalls, the project could be in danger of going the same way as Universal Credit and Barack Obama’s flagship healthcare.org – where reality on the ground triumphed over faith in the technology to deliver.
Of course, sometimes it’s easier not to confront unpleasant realities.
For example, a report from accounting firm Baker Tilly, found that only half of firms understand what is involved if they get into financial difficulties. Around 90% believe they are financially solvent despite evidence to the contrary, it said.
Quite understandably this may be the psychological equivalent of refusing to step on the scales after Christmas or check the bank balance.
But choosing to remain unaware of financial issues renders firms unable to tackle them when they arise.
Any good management should involve planning for worse case scenarios, admitting when something isn’t working and having the courage to change or stop.
Otherwise all we’re left with is blind optimism that everything will just work out. And that benefits no one.
Kathleen Hall is a Gazette reporter