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Effective Scrutiny…Can it be that difficult?

Does effective scrutiny look like this??

Good Scrutiny is not rocket science, but all the preparation in the world can still lead to an undesirable outcome at the meeting. Why?  Because scrutiny can be an unpredictable activity and there is an extent to which we can foresee ‘unpredictable variables’.  Ensuring effective scrutiny meetings requires us to anticipate ‘unpredictable variables’ and to manage them as best as we can on the day of the meeting.

Practical Tips for Scrutineers…


  • What is the desired result?
  • How do we achieve the desired result?
  • What are the ‘unpredictable variables’ and how will we manage them?


  • Fully understanding the situation, gain balanced advice…
  • Evaluate the implication of various courses of action – a right turn, a left turn, even a U turn!
  • Commit to a resolution that the committee is satisfied with and can justify


  • How successful were we as a scrutiny function – did we achieve our result?
  • What went wrong and why…Is there anything to salvage?
  • How can we improve our performance?

Planning ahead of meetings
is important because preparation allows us to anticipate how we may handle ‘unpredictable variables’. How we execute on the day is critical.  Members need to feel satisfied that all the options have been analysed before committing to a course of action.  Despite self-evaluation having increased in popularity, it’s something scrutineers rarely devote sufficient time to undertake. However, if we’re serious about successful scrutiny, we need to understand where we made mistakes in order to rectify them…. and we need to seize any opportunity to help us improve – whether that’s through coaching or peer observation.  And then there’s practice!

Hazel Ilett, Scrutiny Manager