“Deliverology etc.” Resources


In early 2010, the California State University Board of Trustees announced its goal to increase graduation rates by 8% — an admirable goal on its face.

Unfortunately, the CSU Chancellor’s strategy to achieve that goal, referred to among other code words as “Deliverology,” will endanger the quality of CSU degrees and access to them – all in order to “deliver” that magic number.

“Deliverology” is a term coined by Michael Barber, who has worked in various levels of education in the United Kingdom. “Deliverology” involves, in part, a narrow focus on one single numerical target as the measure of “improvement.” Top managment commands and controls delivering services, be they in the public or private sphere, to reach the goal.

Other management fads also are showing up in the CSU. Programs called “rightsizing,” “restructuring,” “prioritizing,” and “reengineering,” involve cutbacks and changes that faculty members say are undermining the quality of CSU degrees. Changes include:

  • Paring down the number of classes required to get a degree, especially in general education
  • Paring down the amount of writing students must do while in college
  • Eliminating whole academic programs and departments
  • Sharply increasing student fees
  • Narrowing down a campus’s geographical service area to restrict enrollment
  • Laying off faculty and student support staff

The Fads

Michael Barber, author of the Deliverology approach

Robert Zemsky, consultant to CSU on “reengineering” the curriculum

The Critics

John Seddon on Deliverology

On April 10, 2010, management thinker John Seddon of the UK addressed the CFA Assembly with his critique of deliverology as it was implemented and failed in the England. He addresses the principles involved in “command and control” versus “systems” management and how each operates in an enterprise, whether it be in the public or private sphere.

  • YouTube videos:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Dennis Loo

CFA Resources