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.