I was running a workshop the other day on the emerging funding mechanisms surrounding regeneration.
One of the slides I’d produced showed sequential links between JVs, LABVs,RGF, TIFs, JESSICAs, LEPs, JEREMIEs, and so on and so forth.
A bright young thing in one of the groups suddenly shouted out (screamed is probably more accurate):
‘’It’s like trying to break the (expletive deleted) Enigma Code’’.
Two immediate emotions surged through me:
- First, surprise, that such a ‘young thing’ had heard of Enigma; and
- Second, anger, as I really didn’t know what it was all about, other than it was something to do with World War 2.
So I decided to do some research and bought Enigma by Robert Harris. His version of the story behind the Code runs something like this.
The Enigma Code
The Enigma machines were a family of portable cipher or encoding machines with rotor scramblers that could generate more than 21 million possible permutations .Good operating procedures, properly enforced, would have made the cipher unbreakable. However, most of the German armed and secret services and civilian agencies that used Enigma employed poor procedures. The German Navy used better procedures than most; it was the poor operating procedures that allowed the cipher to be broken.
Cryptanalysis enabled the western Allies in World War II to read substantial amounts of secret Morse-coded radio communications of the Axis powers that had been enciphered using Enigma machines. This yielded military intelligence which, along with that from other decrypted Axis radio and teleprinter transmissions, was given the codename Ultra. Ultra intelligencewas considered by western Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower to have been “decisive” to Allied victory in World War II.
Well that’s all very interesting but why had there been such a cry of anguish from the floor?
So I went back to look at my slide.
The slide was extremely thorough and well presented. It showed:
- 17 principal funding streams associated with economic, urban and social regeneration;
- 152 possible performance indicators capable of being evaluated; leading to
- 43,928 possible funding permutations.
My slide was vindicated! Nothing like as bad as the Enigma Variations.
But recognising that there is always a serious point associated with pain and anguish I spent some time thinking of ways of making life easier for me the next time I do a workshop (or masterclass as all the bright young things call them these days).
Not the Answer
What I won’t do is to refer to the possibility of a Pilot Study:
- no single project encompasses all of the possible permutations that connected mechanisms and themes can generate;
- no single consultants will have all of the options/solutions and if they said they did, they’d be very expensive;
- no single department seems to care about the concerns and targets set for other departments, even though there’s an economic challenge to be resolved; and
- action needs to be planned or happening now.
We all talk about ‘transparency’ and ‘best practice’ so may be some early actions will lead to some early definitions, realisations and solutions that can be shared.
A Possible Solution
If the problem is one of difficult to understand language or the inability of us in the UK to talk to each other, then perhaps Government should release future legislation on FaceBook or Twitter and establish forums (like this on UKR); I hear even bankers, investors and developers use these new forms of communication.
Actually what really needs to happen is for a new generation of cryptanalysts to come forward to help win this economic war we are in. If anyone’s interested, I’ve just become one having previously been a property analyst.