Renita Thedvall, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Writing Action. How to Fit Alterations into Action Plan Documents

The idea of finding the one best rational, management model has been of central concern for policy makers since the days of Taylor’s Principles for Scientific Management. Since then there have been numerous attempts to control and manage people, knowledge and practices in organizations such as the management model focused in this paper: Lean (Womack et al 1990). Lean traces its origins from the automotive industry but has lately spread like wildfire in the public sector, in the case for this paper, public preschools in Sweden. As other management models categorized as New Public Management, the model is based on continuous improvements, performance management, standardization of processes and visual management with the aim of efficiency and quality (Rose 1996). Many of the Lean improvement processes take place in so-called Improvement groups. One important tool in the Improvement groups is the “action plans” defined by the Lean model. The action plans are structured around a “goal”, “how to reach it”, “what happens after”, “how and when they should control the result” and “who is responsible”. The graphic organization (Hull 2012) of the action plans puts evaluation at focus. There has to be measurable goals so that results can be controlled and responsible actors can be held accountable. The action plans guide what kind of action can be taken with the help of the Lean model. The paper shows how the preschool teachers struggle to fit their alterations of work practices into the action plan document.

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