How programmers saved their homeland

    I have always believed that programmers will save the world. Not those who “give TK, I will program”, but those who are real, who were engineers and inventors a hundred years ago, but with the advent of computers, they simply moved to a virtual environment. But the approach to the case they have remained. Inquiring, engineering, based on facts, measurements and systems thinking. An approach that does not allow to use what you do not understand, did not see from the inside, did not try to change it.

    The world we, we suppose, has not yet saved, but everything is coming to that. Homeland because saved.

    As you understand, we are talking about the grand reforms that swept Russia in recent years. The townsfolk, of course, believe that it is someone smart from the government thought up everything. But we all know that the ideologists, methodologists, architects and performers of the essence of these reforms were programmers.

    I will not get involved in populism, slogans and epithets - I am not a politician. And so from all screens of the country they only say that about this reform. My task is to tell about how it was from the inside. On the assumptions, hypotheses and solutions that we applied.

    In general, there were many decisions, both technical and organizational, due to the wide scope of this project. But you need to start with something, right? Therefore, I will start with the governors, since It was one of the first stages of the project.


    It is more difficult to say that there were no prerequisites for the reform of gubernatorial work than to pinpoint specific problems. There were so many of them that at first they did not know what to undertake.

    A key dilemma was the assessment of their activities, and in any coordinate system. The only person who could, without hesitating, evaluate a particular governor, was the governor himself. For the rest, it was a black box in a suit.

    People didn't understand what this guy was doing. The government did not understand. Even the president did not understand.

    A system of evaluation and management, which we called the case-impulse.

    Precedents led, as a rule, to the resignation of the governor - these are different disasters, high-profile crimes, corruption scandals, etc. Simply put, it's jambs.

    Impulses were acts of governing the activities of the governor. They will give him an order - he will fulfill it. Do not give the order - will not perform. We ourselves, in our own environment, called the governors bad sysadmins - do not kick, do not fly.

    Orders options were a whole bunch. Presidential messages, federal targeted programs, national projects, simply instructions issued by the government or the president.

    You understand that the system cannot work effectively in this mode. She has no goal, or target state, stability and predictability. Do not start a separate body in the government of people who will set tasks for the governors every day and monitor their implementation?

    Therefore, the governors and engaged devils than. They even rejoiced when they were given a specific task, like the plant director - to prepare a city for the summit, or to build a hospital. Because they were able to solve problems in general.

    Another problem was the lack of understanding of the essence of the work of the governor, and all three classes of these guys.

    First class - the governors of the business. Former top managers, or business owners who have decided to go to power. These guys understood very well what numbers, indicators, goals, analysis, evaluation, strategy, etc. are. and, it seems, could cope with the management of the region.

    But their main drawback was the lack of understanding of the role of people. Working in business, they are accustomed to treating people, or more precisely, personnel, as a resource. When you implement an enterprise development strategy, you can not ask the staff’s opinions - they will do what you say. And if they do not want, or do poorly, they can be replaced.

    But how can you not ask for an opinion, or even replace the population of an entire region? First, it is not your subordinates. Secondly, from a formal point of view, it is you who are subordinate, not they. Thirdly, the people are not so much your employee as your consumer. More precisely, simultaneously performs both of these roles.

    Therefore, in the first couple of years, the business governors, who came to power for the first time, started some kind of transformation, and then, having received a massive negative response from the population, either left or abandoned a bad job of change and began to deal with politics. It was ridiculous - they spent a lot of budget funds on an article like “supporting the image of the governor” - they hung up posters, how good they were, they showed videos on television with the opening of parks and hospitals, etc.

    The second class of governors - the former military. They are very similar to the business governors in their attitude to the people, but much worse penetrated into the economy, management and management. You know how many methods of control the military knows.

    The third class is pure politics. These most of the effort was spent on appealing to people, the government, the president. This is the essence of politics, his bread. But in the management of the region there is little sense in such an approach.

    As a result, the governors of all three classes turned into politicians. Well, the evaluation system of their work was quickly reduced to “like / dislike”.


    We did not think about the decision for very long - it seems that everything is obvious here. It is enough to understand who the governor is - a manager who should like. But I like it not for appearances, performances or spans of rural elders, but for management. Type a closed loop such: manage - like - manage - like, etc.

    The key point is to understand what the governor should like. Moreover, all at once - and the population, and the authorities. It is more difficult with the population, because there are many of them, and it is very different. But with the power much easier.

    We decided that the basis of the evaluation system should be numbers.

    There were a lot of numbers. Lots of. All departments, structures, services and ministries had a huge mass of numbers. Economic indicators, statistics of accidents, taxes, provision of kindergartens, air emissions, housing, small business growth - hundreds, thousands of numbers.

    These are the numbers we took. Well, as they took ... zadolbalsya take, to be honest. The departments, like Plyushkin, dragged everything that they did not get, and all to themselves, to a distant closet, which they never looked at afterwards.

    Hundreds of formats - and storage, and exchange, and replenishment. Fortunately, although most of the numbers were not on paper, although this was enough.

    Several thousand aunty from various departments sent us to help - where there was a lot of paper, or the data was in such a format that it would be easier to hammer them in again than to write some kind of exchange protocol.

    Input balances

    There is such a procedure - input residuals, known to automatists of enterprises. This is when, for example, the plant moves from one system to another. In order not to start a new program from a clean slate, residues are introduced into it - how much do buyers owe us, how many goods do we have in stock, how much do our machines cost, etc.

    We in the project also needed input residues. People from the statistics, who worked with us, stood up to protect the numbers - let's say, let's inject all the data that we have. Do not miss a single number! They shouted.

    Somehow repulsed. What for, we say, to drive in data on economic indicators, for example, in the 90s? Well, more precisely, maybe this data will be needed sometime, but obviously not at the start of the project. Our task is to start up the system as soon as possible so that the flow of new numbers, not old numbers, appears, stabilizes and zafurychil.

    After long disputes, they chose a horizon of four years. On the one hand, this is not very much data, given the resources we have. On the other hand, we will understand the history of the work of specific governors over one full term.


    You understand that if our goal is the governors, then all data should be linked to their personalities. Moreover, regardless of the region in which the person worked before. The governors were sometimes shuffled.

    All indicators were tied to the current head of the region. Well, more precisely, the data were simply tied to the period, and the current leader was kept in a separate place. Elementary, you know.

    But we, understanding what will happen next, immediately, when entering the balances, expanded the scale of the project. Don't the governors come out of nowhere? Someone was mayor, someone - minister, someone - the head of the district. And someone now - the mayor, the minister, or the head of the district, but after a couple of years can become the governor.

    Do not start his life with a clean slate? Therefore, we have stratified the figures for positions that are responsible for them, and we have organized personnel records of managers both over the past four years and in advance.

    For example, the indicators related to the accident, clearly identified with the governor, and with the head of the traffic police in the region, and with city and district chiefs, and even with the heads of traffic police in specific areas of cities.

    And so with all the numbers.

    When it was still decided whether to enter data for four years, the opinions of the managers were divided.

    Some were all “for” with all their hands - apparently, those who believed that they worked very well, but because of the lack of a system, went unnoticed. These guys relied on the system in their career growth - they say, now everyone will see how good I am.

    Others, naturally, were against it. These are mostly pure policies. They don’t have something to hide - rather, they had no idea what the numbers would be. Therefore, feared.

    I don’t know for sure, but I do not rule out that somewhere in the middle echelons projects like Operation “Y” were implemented. But even then it didn’t bother me much, and now it’s not really.


    Prior to this project, we mainly worked with the business. In particular, they made similar automated systems for evaluating the activities of managers and business units.

    But in business everything is much simpler. All indicators, one way or another, can be reduced to one thing - profits.

    Here is not the case. As I mentioned above, there were several points of view, both from the population and from the government, which is also very heterogeneous.

    Someone cares about how the population is growing. Someone thinks only of crime. Do not feed someone with bread, give for emissions into the atmosphere and water bodies to count. Someone thinks more systematically, and wants to see the economic situation as a whole.

    At first, by inertia, we tried to invent a single system of assessment, or values, which everyone would like. As business governors, in short, looked.

    But then it dawned on us - what for to make a garden, to try to reduce everything to a single system, which no one will fully understand and accept? So the idea of ​​stencils.

    A stencil is a specific, limited set of indicators for one or more subject areas. This is something like a prism, a filter, which is superimposed on a huge array of numbers, and shows only the important ones - in the context of this stencil.

    The stencil allows you to see both individual indicators, with dynamics, as well as some general, uniform assessment. A single assessment is formed by the weighting factors specified in the stencil.

    For example, the “medical” stencil contains indicators of the salaries of doctors and nurses, provision of narrow specialists, fertility and mortality, insurance costs, depreciation and residual value of equipment and facilities, etc. But does not contain, for example, data on rural construction.

    If you want to assess the state of affairs in medicine, you simply look at the data in the system through a “medical” stencil, and you understand everything at once. And if you don't understand, you go deep into specific indicators.

    There were many stencils, several hundred. They differed both in the number and weights of the indicators, and in the levels of nesting. There are small stencils that see a small piece of reality and contain, say, five indicators.

    And there are stencils of a higher level, which show, in fact, not indicators, but other stencils enclosed in them. Such stencils stencils. Accordingly, the weights are placed not on the indicators, but on the stencils.

    Portraits of governors

    After entering the remnants, and the first months of the system, portraits of the governors were compiled - an assessment of their activities in different stencils.

    One, for example, works well with the economy, but poorly with medicine. The other copes with the entire social sphere, but can in no way achieve an increase in investment in the region. And so on.

    We called these portraits "profiles of heroes", by analogy with computer games. Well, remember - strength, agility, intelligence, eloquence, trade, etc.

    The portraits of the governors became just a bomb, because the system was open - both for the authorities and for the population. After launching the portal, the servers went down several times - the whole country wanted to see the profiles of the heroes.

    And, as you understand, there was not a cast or snapshot of the current state of the hero, but the whole history of his work for more than four years. Not everyone, of course - some became governors a couple of years ago, and before that they were in a black box - business or army.

    Interesting collisions began to be observed. For example, in the current region, the governor has everything bad with the economy, and in the past, for some reason, with the same economy, through the same stencil, everything was fine.

    Having a little rummaged in dependencies, we realized that it was not only the governor himself, but also the specifics of the region. So the idea of ​​a portrait of the region appeared.

    Portraits of the regions

    Portraits of the regions were formed on the same principle as the profiles of the heroes, but complexity was added to each indicator.

    You understand that one thing is a communal apartment in Sochi, where there is almost no snow, and quite another is the city of the middle lane or, in general, the North. Or the development of the economy of Moscow is different from the development of this in the God-forgotten Kurgan region. Not to mention the comparison of ecology, for example, the Chelyabinsk region and Altai.

    Now everything fell into place. If the governor copes with the stencil of low complexity in one region, then this, in general, is not his merit - it somehow all works by itself. Reality opens when moving to a region where the stencil is a problem.
    What happened next, you probably know from the history of reform. The Great Migration has begun.

    Great Migration

    Of course, it was not people who were relocated, but leaders. And the governors, and prosecutors, and ministers, and generals of the police, and the heads of the Emergencies Ministry. Exactly in accordance with the portraits.

    Do you cope well with investments in the region? Go where there is not a single Auchan. Clean up emissions and landfills? Wellcome, there is nothing to breathe in that area. Reduced the number of accidents in half? Come on, card in hand, save people and cars.

    As you understand, the system was, in fact, self-taught. At the time of the start, the problems of the regions were well known, but there was still not enough information about the heroes' ability to cope with them. Therefore, the Great Migration was not a one-time act, but became a constant practice.

    In fact, constant shuffling has become the practice of confirming competencies. Well, you know, like programmers. A man comes from the street, he says - I know the reactor. Come on, sit down, here's your task, make an abstract component with a declarative description. Did you do it? Great, you have a more difficult task. Did not work out? Ok, the border is clear. Either complex tasks are not on the shoulder, or the first success was accidental. Or even written off. We give the third attempt and see what happens.

    So did the leaders. Someone flew up sharply in the ranking, constantly confirming their competencies. These became princes on white horses, without fear and reproach, like magic wands. Someone left because they could not cope. Or reduced the position, so that in the area of ​​responsibility there remain fewer stencils - only those with which they are guaranteed to cope.

    Now, as you know, they do not shuffle so often, because a sandbox has appeared, but I'll tell you about it another time.

    Election system

    The election of governors and, of all subordinate and parallel leaders, was naturally canceled. All power seized the excitement of change and improvement, and it was impossible to bring imbalance and downtime into this upstream.

    Actually, there was nothing new in this - you know from history. But if earlier this approach, as a whole, did not have a clear explanation, now it almost didn’t raise any questions - the results of the reform work were obvious.

    Especially in view of transparency. Portraits of both heroes and regions were available online to anyone, including the stencil system (except for objectively secret ones, of course). Appointment decisions were almost always obvious, with rare exceptions, when test assignments were made.

    Competency sharing

    Programmers, and any other adequate specialists, do not hesitate to learn from each other. They gather at seminars, exhibitions, hakatons, write and read articles about successes and failures.

    If you delve into history, you will not find a single decent article written by the governor. Of course, this is not about laudatory speeches or, conversely, spacing and investigations of the opposition, but about a normal exchange of experience. Look, suddenly I'm wrong. Where is the article "How I improved the environment in region X"? And about the "experience of increasing the investment attractiveness of the region Y"?

    Now there is a lot of such information. At first the exchange was informal - they just went to each other, asked, looked to understand how to bleed one or another stencil. Then, noticing this process, the authorities streamlined it - conferences, resources, articles, books, and best practices appeared. Then it all degenerated into a sandbox.

    That's all for now. Tomorrow reception in the Kremlin, worried.

    Sincerely, your S.I.
    November 2030

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