Saturday, 9 May 2015

The EDAS Route Map for Common Ambition

one of the regular EDAS backslapping sessions
one of the regular EDAS backslapping sessions

You know, you can wait for weeks for one good cliché to come along and then 58 come along at the same time! I was settling down to read the Scottish Government's Town Centre Masterplanning Toolkit the other day when my colleague Duncan came rushing into the office brandishing a six page document. It was called the EDAS Route Map for Common Ambition. Now Ordnance Survey, TomTom, First Group and Arriva all have route maps so why not EDAS? Useful I'm sure - and they don't want to be left out!

You might ask about EDAS itself - what is it and why? Well I can reveal that it is a secretive organisation apparently operating from a Council house in Auchterarder - and why not? Auchterarder needs all the help it can get! The organisation is chaired by my old boss Sir Robert Crawford CBE and I'm sure he is very comfortable working out of the cupboard beneath the stairs - well away from the goldfish bowl! You might have thought that the Economic Development Association Scotland might have had prestigious offices perhaps in Edinburgh or Glasgow but no. Mind you, being mean and a cheapskate is a sound approach to economics - most rich and clever people are mean! A quick look at the EDAS website reveals a glittering array of Directors and Executive Staff - a veritable smörgåsbord of unappealingly cold dishes. But it's a handy cut-out-and-keep list of Scottish do-gooders and faceless committee fodder looking for an OBE.

Anyway, Duncan was obviously distressed by this publication and was struggling to figure out what a Common Ambition might be. He said when he was young, a woman who picked her nose in public was called 'common' and why would anyone aspire to that? I stared at him in amazement as the dunked Rich Tea biscuit slowly fell into my mug of tea. I ushered him out of my office, offering to read the document at home that evening. I'm always keen to help staff whenever possible.

True to my word I settled down with a mug of Ovaltine to read the Route Map to Common Ambition that evening and I was amazed by what I read. Truly this is a work of great genius which articulates, develops and synthesises many discussion points. I was quivering with excitement after the first paragraph. At its core, this is an evolving policy analysis framework designed to ensure that key aspects of Scottish economic development are kept at the forefront of debate, analysis and comment. After the first page I had broken out in a sweat. By the time I had read "identify evidence and metrics that facilitate a pan-economic development community understanding of the policy area" I was in a lather of expectation. I felt as if a beautiful unmarried Russian damsel was massaging my ears with honey and perfumed water while her friend was digging my back garden.

Like a fine wine, I realised that this document was only going to improve with age. It was one of the most extensive collections of clichés I had ever come across. You see, planners need clichés - it is the way that they communicate with each other and without them we would be lost. And an Expert Planner needs Expert Clichés.

I decided to pace myself and went for a walk in the garden, promising to read it later. As I was passing the rhubarb bed it occurred to me that I had held in my hands the very means to enable the economic future of our lovely wee country. After my brief walk I resumed my analysis of this seminal work and became exhausted by the sheer bravado and intellectual endeavour of it all. I slept soundly.

The next day I asked Duncan to come to my room. His mood hadn't improved. I explained to him that this was a magnificent document that represented one of the highest peaks of intellectual thought focused on economic development seen so far in the history of Scotland and that I was deeply moved by almost every sentence. He was furious and accused me of being a crawler, a puppet and a simpleton. "How can you say this is a great document when you probably don't understand a single sentence?" I bridled. "It's written in some of the worst management speak you will ever come across! It is pretentious junk from beginning to end!" I advised him to watch his language or he would be facing disciplinary action. I tried to explain to him that it was necessary to write like this so that no one would understand it - in that way you make the document seem important and exclusive. He snatched the document from my desk and put it through the shredder. "I have better things to do than talk to people like you!" he shouted as he slammed the door. There will be an official response to his impertinence.

Whatever my members of staff think, I heartily recommend this magnificent collection of ideas to everyone. Well done Bob, EDAS and all the other contributors - a great piece of work. Cheeriebye from Auchterness and have a great week. I'll be back soon.

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