The following is an example of a memorandum written by Bob Jardine, Biometrician to Assistant Director General Bob Taylor  at a time when the Department's senior management were experimenting with "matrix organisation" structures.

 

16 January ?

To: AD/G Taylor

On: Your Notes (Functional Organisation) attached.

 

I wonder if you're not over-complicating things.

In Concise Oxford (1976) says Function = "mode of activity by which a thing fulfils its purpose". This is spot on for us. R&D, Regulation and Extension are the modes of activity by which the Department fulfils its public purposes.

My view is that 98% of our troubles come from extremely poor problem identification, and that a functionally based organisation can help to improve it. Crisis management is always fairly easy, I think, for precisely this reason - the problem is clearly defined, and the difficulties are purely technical (automatic top-down planning).

Well, if the Extension Group people are not allowed to mess abut with pseudo-R&D they will have to think more about what are the problems they can deal with, and what are those they should push off onto R&D. Likewise, R&D will have to stop rabbiting around on a low level of ivory-towering on a high level, and pay attention to problem-solving demands. Regulation is in an easier position because it is always semi-crisis in nature.

This is why I don't think Industry or Regional approaches are too important We (our Extension Groups mainly) ought to be listening to any and everyone - farmers, agricultural organisations, industry representatives, politicians, economists and whatever - and converting what we hear into actual or potential problems. It is fairly easy then to decide whether they need R&D, regulation or extension; and what the priorities are.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't think we need 3-dimensional "matricies". If we had our problem-identification eyes working properly, half these matters would take care of themselves.

 

RJ 16/1

 

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