Saturday, 25 June 2011

Business 'Gurus' are still way out of date ... but are slowly catching on!

Gary Hamel, a supposed well-known 'business guru' (from the United States) recently dropped in and talked to Peter Day's "World of Business" programme on his latest UK trip to visit to the London Business School.

Peter Day started by referring to all the soul-searching going on following the credit crunch... e.g. with regard to the ways banks work, markets work, and the kind of values/purposes of companies operating in such markets ..."

Day then went on to highlight how people are starting to challenge conventional wisdom on how businesses operate ... and suggested 'behaviour' currently appeared rather 'shabby' ... referring to a lack of trust ... 

Hamel started by discussing the 'values crisis' ... and the fact that most CEO's focus almost "exclusively on shareholders and making the numbers, with everything else going to hell". 

He went on to highlight how the web is starting to bring transparency and accountability, and said "we have to call them to account for the underlying values they bring to business ... particularly the banks ..." and said "we cannot have leaders of institutions whose primary motive is greed ..."

What we are now seeing (e.g. Egypt) is how people can mobilise ... if they choose to ... but Hamel noted how people are currently too complacent (i.e. apathetic) ... he said "people need to call leaders to account ... demand more transparency ... and demand more from them as consumers ..."

Peter Day referred to the need to address the lack of trust in business, and the fact that efforts currently focus too heavily on quarterly reports and short term profits. Hamel went on to describe the challenges ahead ... e.g. the need for honor and courage ... and the need to refocus on innovation and the production of value (looking beyond short-term profit) ... as well as a business environment where people become accountable for how they treat others, the environment etc ... (i.e. the role of enterprise in the wider world).

Hamel also referred to the lack of responsiveness in organisations, and the fact that innovation often involves taking money away from traditional activities, in order to invest in the future (which top-down organisational structures fail to support)! He said alternative approaches are becoming "clearer now" ... ones which involve empowering people, allowing people to collaborate and innovate, with all the data (and decision making powers) they need, and with everyone accountable (and rewarded) for their actions ... but he said we are being held hostage by 100 year old beliefs.

Most of the leaders of very progressive organisations, if they went to business school (and most of them didn't), have thrown most of what they learnt out! Hamel went on to say "There comes a point time in human endeavour, and I believe we are there in management now, when we have to go back and challenge first principles ... and old models" ... as such models had not had to face up to challenges such as ... changing very fast, being socially accountable, or innovating systematically ... 

Hamel referred to the need for a paradigm shift, siting fundamental shifts in understanding within other disciplines in the past. For instance, Hamel highlighted how "there was no way of understanding the sub-atomic world by starting with Newtonian Physics, and it had had to go through a fundamental paradigm shift" ... and he concluded "that this is also going to have to happen in business" ... (NB the shift in understanding will not come from business schools themselves, as they are 'wedded' to existing doctrine, which is also 20-30 years out of date)!

He referred to the need for a new management model and governance model, and said most people teaching in business schools now know that "what they're teaching in business schools isn't relevant now". Hamel also said that they are trying to find out "where to go next", and went on to say that they may not lead the next revolution ... "it might come from managers themselves, and/or from people in social sciences and biology, who have a lot more to say on this [than business schools]" ... (indeed ... it has, and will continue to be, developed by forward-looking people who are commonly referred to as "creative outsiders", and whose ideas are almost always initially ignored/rejected)! 

Hamel said new models are still kind of fuzzy ... but Peter Day quizzed him about the bankers and the "perils they are leading people into" ... Hamel said he was still "amazed at their state of denial", with groups such as Goldman Sachs being pulled up in front of US Congress, "for selling toxic products to their customers, whilst betting against these products on the other side"!

He said "people can't be passive anymore" ... and made it clear that current leaders/executives are "living on borrowed time" ... 

Hamel is beginning to catch on ... but this knowledge (and much more besides) was uncovered (and made available to the world) a number of years ago (21st Century Management in a Lean World) ... and the World of Economics is also heading for a similar paradigm shift too (i.e. towards Leanomics) ... though a small, greedy (and power hungry) minority, who currently exploit (and profiteer from) the existing (and failing) system, will fight tooth and nail to resist such paradigm shifts ... and in this way Hamel is actually right ... people can't afford to be passive (i.e. ignorant or apathetic) anymore ...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Will bribery boost Nick Clegg's popularity?

Nick Clegg is desperately trying to turn around the catastrophic collapse in his popularity and the support for his party ... following crushing defeats in recent elections. 

Local election results were a catastrophe for the Liberal Democrat party, and the Referendum on Electoral Reform turned into an anti-Clegg vote instead of a vote on changing the electoral system (given it was his pet project) - which was a major setback to any real democracy in this country.

But will bribing the country, by offering them a few shares in RBS, help revive support for him and his party, or will voters see it for what it is? Early indications seem to suggest the latter, but if it this con does work, it will just go to show how low these politicians are prepared to go and how gullible, selfishness and immoral the people have become (giving up their principles, such as trust, honor and respect for others, for cash). 

By giving the share money away they expect most of it to be immediately spent back in the economy, but if they used the money to pay off debt it would reduce the tax burden for generations to come ... so everyone would benefit (ie. children, and their children). However the problem with paying off debt in this way is that the children don't have a vote, so there is no point in Nick Clegg trying to bribe them! If Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats really cared about the future he would focus on the future generation too. Instead he wants to give everyone on the electoral register (i.e. with a vote) a few shares, but is not interested in putting any shares into trust funds for the young, or reducing their tax burden and/or helping to reverse the tripling of student fees!

Nick Clegg needs to remember that Gordon Brown tried hard (and failed) to gain popularity and also create dependency ... by bribing people with their own money (and money he did not have) and by expanding 'tax credits' to higher income groups! Brown then went on to warn people not to vote for someone else ... as they might lose the benefits they were now used to getting! His scam didn't work ... and voters still voted with the feet ... and away from one of the most callous and manipulative 'leaders' in history. Let's hope the electorate are clever enough to spot Clegg's game, and walk away from this scam too!

Monday, 20 June 2011

A failing country - rewarding irresponsibility, corruption and cheating

In a speech in London, Ed Miliband, the current leader of the Labour party, admitted that, following a decade in power, voters looked upon Labour as the party which protected claimants abusing the welfare system (cheating), allowed reckless gambling in the City (corruption) as well as the reward of failure in the boardroom (irresponsibility). 

He said "Labour - a party founded by hard working people for hard working people - was seen by some, however unfairly, as the party of those ripping off our society".

The Labour leader said the party must now focus on changing this perception, he said Labour must become a party that "rewards contribution, not worklessness." He said Labour must also focus on rewarding "entrepreneurship" and "wealth creation", and said that Labour "must change" in order once again to be "the party of the grafters". 

He said Labour had failed to change the 'take what you can culture' (i.e. 'greed') and had "failed to change the ethic of the country" ...

Indeed so ... and they have now effectively admitted it! 

In fact the truth is they made things far worse ... as they showed that Labour, a party backed by the unions, and supposed to represent the interests of honest hard-working people, failed to represent their interests at all ... and, corrupted by power, and focused on media sound-bites and self-interest, acted recklessly and irresponsibly ... without any moral/ethical values at all ... 

Indeed Labour politicians promoted the line 'greed is good', and 'took what they could' for themselves (e.g. just take a look at the expenses scandal, and at all the executive/non-executive positions in large corporations/banks they took up for themselves) ... as they 'milked' their position of power, whilst preaching the moral high ground to everyone else! The truth is that New Labour, during their decade in power, destroyed the country ... and the vast majority of people in the UK are now paying the price ... (nb Tony Blair, on leaving office, immediately joined the bankers, and paid £1m/year for doing virtually nothing!) ... 

So should we trust them now ... definitely not (nb Ed Miliband was himself part of the Government that destroyed the country - and will say anything to regain power). Ok, so should we trust the people currently in power ... definitely not.

One day there will be change ... but it will be led by very different people, and not the leaders of any of the current parties. It's a shame the unions didn't bite the bullet and create a new party to really represent the people (as they threatened to do following all the expenses scandals) ... to fight corruption and greed, as well Miliband, Clegg and Cameron.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

They didn't pause ... and they didn't listen

Anyone with any real desire/ability to question, will have known all along that the NHS 'listening exercise' was going to be no more than a smoke-screen ... as at the heart of the NHS reforms lies a fundamental strategy to save money (over £20bn in fact) by bribing GP's to ration healthcare ... 

And the reason for this is simple and clear to see - if you want to slash costs in the NHS then the best place to do this is in the GP's surgery, i.e. before GP's recommend / suggest any kind of medicine/treatment to a patient! 

Creating a situation where GP's can profit heavily from not recommending treatment creates a fundamental conflict of interest ... not in the interests of patients, but very much in the interests of their personal, and already inflated, bank balances (nb we already have some of the most highly paid doctors in the World)!

Such a situation clearly conflicts with their duty of care, as well as the hippocratic oath they take, but most people now go into medicine not to 'help people' ... but to make a 'shed-load of money'!

Under attack from the public as well as all the professionals involved in the NHS (nb even from the open, honest and honorable GP's who would themselves profit financially from such reforms), the Government decided to 'pause' and 'listen'. However the Government spent most of their time telling/persuading, and quietly pushing ahead with plans to give GP's responsibility for commissioning (nb and profiting from rationalising healthcare).

The Government also set up a group to run a 'listening exercise',  but they made sure from the very outset that rewarding GP's (for rationing healthcare) was not going to be put at risk ... and doing this was easy - they just selected the 'right person' to  'lead it" ... i.e. Steve Field, a practising GP, and previously the head of the Royal College of GP's!

So why didn't they pick a person with no vested interests to lead the 'listening exercise' ... too much of a risk ... pretty obvious really! 

Friday, 10 June 2011

While 'Rome burned' ... Politicians 'plotted' to topple the Prime Minister

In the wake of the 7/7 attacks on London, and as Prime Minister Tony Blair focused on trying to stop further terrorist attacks, Gordon Brown and his top henchmen, instead of helping the Prime Minister, saw it as an opportunity to step up their plan to oust the Prime Minister.

This might be old news, but recently leaked documents now officially show how Gordon Brown's own self-interest, and his relentless pursuit of power, completely overshadowed any interest in helping to protect the British public.

Just as importantly, this was also true for his henchmen, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander too, who were duely 'rewarded' by Gordon Brown once Tony Blair had finally been ousted.

And the big issue now ... Well Ed Miliband is now the leader of the Opposition ... and Ed Balls is his right hand man! 

So we are now in a position where people do not trust the Government ... and they cannot trust the leaders of the Opposition either!

What a mess ... and with the Liberal Democrats having 'sold' their soul in pursuit of power ... and having reneged on all of their promises ... trust in politicians is once again at an all time low ... and the result ... frustration, anger and apathy / action !

Either way, I guess people will get what they deserve!

Government still want to reward GP's for rationing healthcare

Before entering office David Cameron said the NHS was safe in his hands and promised to put an end to top-down reforms. Yet on entering office, his Government immediately embarked upon radical top-down reforms of the NHS, which no-one knew about and no-one voted for. 

The reforms contain fundamental conflicts of interest and put the future of the NHS at risk, prompting opposition and anger from the public as well as every professional healthcare group (e.g. the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Surgeons ...).  

So Cameron said the Government would embark on a 'listening exercise", but in reality the Government listened very little (but talked a lot) and continued to quietly press ahead with GP commissioning (so there could deliberately be no turning back in this part of the plan)!

David Cameron has now given five pledges about reforming the NHS, but they are most noted for their omissions rather than what they include ... as there is no plan to stop GP's from profiteering from rationing healthcare ... i.e. the most blatant conflict of interest.  

GP's have shown themselves to be more than happy to profiteer from NHS changes in the past ... and many are looking to these reforms to provide the biggest opportunity yet ... e.g. by profiteering from bonuses (and shares in commissioning companies) for rationing healthcare to patients, as well as  being able to commission work to themselves or to companies they have interest in (e.g. shares, directorships).

David Cameron is making 'pledges' in many areas, but they are clearly not going to change the strategy of bribing GP's in order to ration healthcare - as this is the way that the Government plans to make £20bn of savings in the NHS ... and when you take out the additional profiteering from GP's, the real decrease in actual healthcare spending is going to be much more!

NB The Government are also still toying with imposing more competition from private health companies, and they're still looking to scrap their legal duty to provide the same level of healthcare to everyone wherever they live too! Which also go to show that the "listening exercise" was nothing of the sort, and that Cameron's 'pledges' are also not worth the paper they are written on ...

Democracy - what Democracy? ... The Government is pushing through reforms that no-one voted for

In an article in the New Statesman the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that the public is gripped by “fear” over the Government’s reforms to education, the NHS and the benefits system and accuses David Cameron and Nick Clegg of forcing through “radical policies for which no one voted”.

Openly questioning the democratic legitimacy of the Coalition, the Archbishop dismisses the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” as a “painfully stale” slogan, and claims that it is “not enough” for ministers to blame Britain’s economic and social problems on the last Labour government.

His two-page critique, titled “The government needs to know how afraid people are”, is the most forthright political criticism by such a senior cleric since Robert Runcie enraged Margaret Thatcher with a series of attacks in the 1980s. Lambeth Palace is braced for an angry response but Dr Williams, who became Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, is understood to believe that the moment is right for him to enter the political debate.

The Archbishop warns that Westminster politics “feels pretty stuck”, adding that his aim is to stimulate “a livelier debate” and to challenge the Left to develop its own “big idea” as an alternative to the Tory-Lib Dem alliance.

He said the Coalition is facing “bafflement and indignation” over its plans to reform the health service and education, he writes. “With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” the Archbishop says.

“At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.” 

He also went on to say that the Prime Minister’s “Big Society” is viewed with “widespread suspicion” as an “opportunistic” cover for spending cuts, as previous champions resign in protest and given the Government Big Society Tsar has now also stepped down.

Yet arguably the biggest con of all is when Politicians stand up and criticize the lack of democracy in other countries around the world ... and site western democracies as an examplar to follow! Yet in reality, in British democracy, only around 2% of votes in marginal constituencies really count, and even these votes count only once every five years! As a result, Politicians, in-between elections, do what they want in their own self-interest, regardless of what they may have previously promised the electorate (which is arguably both immoral and unethical) ... which is why the Archbishop Canterbury has decided to 'shine a light' on it.

Until ignorance reduces and people stand-up to be counted (i.e. apathy reduces) such misuse of power will continue. Let's see how much longer they'll be able get away with it ... as things continue to get worse, and honest, hard-working people continue to face the harsh reality of paying the price of bailing out the banks and continuing to fund their lavish multi-million pound bonuses. Corrupt bankers and politicians have a lot to answer for ... and the day draws ever closer when they are called to account. 

Aristotle himself said: 

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers" 

"In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme" 

"No notice is taken of a little evil, but when it increases it strikes the eye"

"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" 

and ... "The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance".

Wise words indeed ... and just as revelant today.