Last week Jack Shemtob, 53, a senior manager at Transport for London, was told he was being made redundant after 30 years' work. Shortly afterwards he took the lift to the sixth floor and plunged to his death in the office atrium.
Earlier in the week Mark and Helen Mullins, both aged 48, died at their home in Bedworth, Warwickshire. It was thought Mr Mullins, a former Army PE instructor, and his wife had killed themselves in desperation after what the Metro newspaper described as 'a series of health and benefit setbacks', including having their 12-year-old daughter taken into care.
A Salvation Army worker was quoted as saying: "This couple were simply allowed to slip through the net with tragic consequences." When they needed help, it wasn't there.
Whatever was going through Mr Shemtob's mind, it was clear he too had reached the end of his resources. An organisation that is making a fifth of its 25,000 staff redundant had not foreseen the consequences for one individual.
Maybe you can't blame Transport for London, in the same way that maybe you can't blame the social services and health workers assigned to Mark and Helen Mullins. Mostly people soldier on and get by. Those struggling on benefits remain out of sight and out of mind, and those struggling to cope with redundancy disappear quietly, as they are no doubt meant to.
It's embarrassing when people do something extreme, like committing suicide. It disturbs the order. It tells us all that the systems don't work. It's an affront to management, an intrusion of an alternative reality where people placed under intolerable stresses really do crack up.
Most of what we read about management and running organisations - especially public services - preserves the veneer of respectability and recasts organisational changes that mess up people's lives as efficiencies and innovations. So it's been refreshing in the last few days to read David Boyle's new book, The Human Element.
Boyle is one of the more underrated writers of our age, and his latest book is both grounded and far-sighted. He counters the organisational cultures that cannot handle human beings with a call for the introduction of a 'people principle' throughout businesses and public services: a belief that people work better when trusted to do the job well, and that organisations based on relationships and human understandings are more likely to act efficiently and effectively.
David Boyle has long been an advocate of co-production, where ordinary people are involved in shaping public services or businesses, and The Human Element renews that call. It proposes 10 people-centred rules for getting things done, first of which is to hire people for their personality rather than their qualifications.
He rails against the empires of global corporations and monolithic public institutions, demanding a really localist approach that gives everyone the chance to feel useful. He calls it 'the radical devolution of work to people, aware that their innate skills are their main tool to make things happen'.
Echoing Edgar Cahn's belief that there should be 'no more throwaway people', he rejects the cultures of efficiency sold by the bucketload by consultants like McKinsey, instead arguing that human interaction and intuition should be at the heart of our organisations. He also challenges the version of localism dispensed by the current government, arguing: 'There is no point in localism if towns and cities stay powerless supplicants to the power of semi-monopolies such as supermarkets or giant waste contractors.'
Sometimes Boyle skates over the complexities and difficulties of human relationships and their scope for going disastrously wrong. But in a world that increasingly seems to think all risks can be overcome with the right set of algorithms, that considers the answer to Europe's financial problems is handing over power to unelected technocrats, and that looks on helplessly when people are driven to despair, his vision of people-centred institutions is not just timely but vital.
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