Hey ho! In an effort to follow thru on my promise to grapple with some more topical non-trans stuff, today kicks off with a short commentary on a topical news story.
For the record, i’m not going to comment everything: that’d be daft. But where something tickles my fancy and maybe crosses into an area where i have some experience, that’s a good place to start. Tempted too by the parallel that as my new fanny begins to settle into place, there’s a t least one government minister behaving like a complete twat!
Step forward Policy Minister, Oliver Letwin, who this week has been talking about the need to instil “fear” into public sector workers. According to the Grauniad, he said:
“You can’t have room for innovation and the pressure for excellence without having some real discipline and some fear on the part of the providers that things may go wrong if they don’t live up to the aims that society as a whole is demanding of them”.
Oh, alright. I’ll cut him a smidgeon of slack. He is trying to make a point about competition and how one of the motive factors where you have competitive activity is fear of being beaten by the competition. But in years and years of working with blue chip companies, i’ve never yet seen that as a useful motivator.
What i have seen are the consequences of fear-driven environments. In large organisations, public and private sector alike, fear does not tend to lead to innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Rather, it leads to immobility: everyone starts back protecting; no-one is responsible any more.
Every least mistake becomes a massive exercise in hunt the culprit: and frontline staff take refuge in rules, on the basis that if they don’t break the rules, they can’t be fired. A jobsworth culture emerges, with fear the absolute enemy of creative thinking.
I’ve seen fear, too, in places that were about to go under: it didn’t help. Usually it just led to stranger and stranger desperate decisions being taken to little avail.
I’ve also, having worked briefly for News International some ten years back, seen how corrupting fear can be. Defensiveness. Cover-ups. Lack of taking responsibility.
Those weren’t just organisational foibles: they became the organisation’s culture, and i’d say contributed heavily to the result we’ve seen in recent months.
But maybe Letwin needs to walk the walk. And before any passing plod reads the next couple of pars, please note that this is IRONY. It is not incitement: no, sir! Or if it is, you’d better take Mr Letwin in for questioning at about the same time as you arrest me.
Cause maybe what we should be thinking about is how to assist Mr Letwin in his new doctrine. How about ringing his doorbell at one in the morning and shouting thru the Letwin box: “come up with some better ideas or we’re going to get you”.
Hmmmm. If that doesn’t work, one could tie the message to a brick and hurl it thru his front window.
I guess that would make him a bit afraid…and then he’d start to work harder, better.
And if not, whyever not?