Category Archives: Management

Government Strategies For A Dead Horse

I have been studying the decision-making and initiative delivery record of Theresa May’s government and as far as I can see, she manages by delivering statements of intent , plus a very clever device which appears to be problem-solving action but in fact, is totally meaningless.

It begins with three words: “We have allocated…..”  This phrase is followed by a large number.

Grenfell? “We have allocated……….”
NHS? “We have allocated…..”

This muddly and often protracted management method can be explained by analogy and the wisdom of those without PPE degrees, MBAs and other letters after their names.

The well-known and slightly modified analogy below should also be studied carefully by the real experts in dead horse flogging – Tory High Command –  especially when choosing Party leaders.

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to another is that if you find yourself riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

However, in modern government, because of the heavy
investment and re-election factors to be taken into consideration, other strategies
need to be tried with dead horses, including the following:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Threatening the horse with termination.
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
7. Appointing an intervention team to re-animate the dead horse.
8. Creating a training session to increase riding ability.
9. Re-classifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
10. Change the form so that it reads: “This horse is not dead.”
11. Hire outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
12. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.
13. Donate the dead horse to a recognized charity, thereby deducting its
full original cost.
14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
15. Do a time management study to see if the lighter riders would improve
productivity.
16. Purchase an after-market product to make dead horses run faster.
17. Declare that a dead horse has lower overheads, is therefore more-cost-effective and therefore performs better.
18. Form a quality focus group to find profitable uses for dead horses.
19. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for horses.
20. Say things like, “This is the way we have always ridden this horse.”
21. Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.
22. Comparing the state of dead horses in today’s environment.
23. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
24. Do a Cost Analysis study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
25. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory or Ministerial position.
26. Create a government subsidy to retrain dead horses
27. Appoint a dead-horse ‘Czar’ in order to return to 4 (above).
28. ‘Allocate’ a large amount of money so that the dead-horse goes away.
29. Highlight the shameful historical treatment of dead horses by the Opposition in an attempt to win the dead-horse argument.

The. Management.

Remember Hale and Pace when they were funny?  This isn’t about them – but it is about Management, Organisation and Decision Making – with maybe a quick nod to Leadership.

The context? The ramshackle mélange of lawyers, doctors, local government employees, lecturers, teachers, journalists, farmers, political organisers and city types which makes up the UK Parliament.

Some of them even end up running Departments of State with massive resources and budgets which are measured in tens or even hundreds of millions. Many are unsuitable for management and even less suitable for leadership but………. with a system which promotes from within a very limited talent pool, the strangest of people rise to the sort of power which those of us who grew up in a mostly meritocratic and competitive corporate environment can only marvel at.

Four out of our five most recent Chancellors were either Lawyers or History graduates! Our present Prime Minister studied Geography. Our Foreign Secretary is an Oxford Classics graduate (that’s Latin and Greek to you and me) and our Defence Secretary has a degree in Social Sciences!

There are English graduates and Philosophy degrees. There’s a medical doctor and even a media person. There’s a statistical sprinkling of those ubiquitous Politics, Philosophy and Economics graduates but some say that PPE graduates never quite learn enough about any one subject…….ideal MP fodder!!

But you may ask ‘What has a degree got to do with anything?’

On the face of it – nothing at all….but it is Organisation and Management which run departments with Leadership showing the way…..and if there is no leadership and an inability or unwillingness to take decisions, there is a lack of progress with decisions being consigned to investigations, reviews, inquiries and commissions – which in reality are no more than misused government devices which cleverly disguise intransigence and moribund passivity into action.

The only other place I have seen such a disparate band of individuals attempting to act as a team was a motley crew of  so-called ‘middle management’ in a very well-known company’s marketing department. There were graduates of every flavour imaginable – but they neither had to lead, manage nor take decisions. The corporate damage that they could inflict was negligible.

The clue as to the unsuitability of many (most) MPs to administer billions of pounds on our behalf is to be found in the type  of individual who chose to study a particular subject…..but there’s more…..

So-called ‘Communication Skills’, exemplified by an ability to talk whilst being insulted is certainly not related to any ability to lead or manage and yet, it is the skill which is prized above all others.

Currently, (as always) there is talk of future reform of the House of Lords reform and hopefully that is where any reform will remain….in the future.

Before training its beady eye on the Other Place, the  House of Commons would do well to pause and think about its own fitness for purpose.

 

Q: How many MPs work at the House of Commons?

A: About 10% of them.

Leadership: Charisma or Competence?

leader

In the last few years there has been a growing interest in leadership and leadership theory –  in the wake of the appearance of political leaders whose election seems to be something of an anomaly.

For instance, Donald Trump is widely regarded as an incompetent (possibly certifiable) loose cannon and the United Kingdom’s Theresa May as a charmless administrator who has suddenly and by accident, found herself in the top job as British Prime Minister.

What Trump and May do have in common, however, is that they are widely regarded as being a perfect example of the Peter Principle. That is to say, they both appear to have been promoted to way beyond their level of incompetence. Continue reading Leadership: Charisma or Competence?