With this excellent proverb in mind Robin Guenier has written a comment for this blog on the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT]. Guenier is chairman of Medix, an online market researcher which has carried out several surveys of doctors on their views of the NPfIT.
He is also head of the health group of the Information Technologists’ Company, formerly the Worshipful Company of Information Technology. He is expressing a personal view, and is not representing Medix or the ITC.
He comments on a paper by the British Computer Society’s Health Informatics Forum on the NPfIT. His response makes the particularly valid point that the rejection of serious criticism of the NPfIT can lead to complacency which is a probable route to disaster.
Says Guenier: “I fear that the getting-fashionable ‘build on what we have achieved’ philosophy is not a route to success – tinkering won’t do. And success should be all that matters.”
The proverb may apply to any IT project or programme that is in serious trouble, though it was written before the advent of satellite navigation systems.
Would that the proverb had been applied to IT-related schemes such as the Libra project to provide a unified case-management system for magistrates courts, which shuffled on for more than 10 years, those involved knowing it was on the wrong road but unable to say so, because it was deemed politically unacceptable for anyone in authority to say: we have made a mistake; we will rethink the whole idea.
Guenier’s comments are published separately on this blog.