The Business Doctor

'eradicating the Mad Management Virus'

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I’m writing this in the cafĂ© of the Centre of Creative Leadership in Brussels so forgive the leaps. The tea is great and all the varying languages going on around me, it feels a little like the UN, it's so entertaining. As an aside, it is interesting that how, when you don’t recognise the words (my French is weak, okay pretty appalling if honest), you try to guess the conversation by body language and gestures of the actors. I’m sure this does not work however, otherwise when you are listening to native Chinese talk, you would assume a domestic fight has broken out, and whilst the Chinese are not unlike the West in marital disputes, not all of the time I’m sure.

Let's get to the point of my rant. I have been amused this and last week at the Sky and Sports commentators’ scandal and it amazes me that people are so shocked, well shocked for the wrong reasons. I’m also strangely disappointed as pro-feminist, that most people still don’t get it. Sport was ‘created’ to enhance masculine values. Values, which I won't go into in this post, that promote masculinity per se, but mirror the values in most organisations that are also created out of these masculine roles. Organisations are built by men, for men, for men to play their games in, is one quote from Rosebeth Moss-Kanter work in the 90's switch sticks out even into days, liberal, equality bound, ethical structures and policy.

Forming a 'lobby group' as one 'expert' suggested, to change the male attitude is extremely difficult given that their whole life has been about creating an image based on not being the ‘other’ i.e. feminine. There is no grey area to most men. Its masculine or the other. Most men fear the notion that they can be fluid in terms of masculinity and femininity, and not based in any fixed category.

This for me is the rub. If feminist’s, or for that matter people want to change society then focussing efforts on to sport is only a tiny part of that change and some would say a waste of effort if it fails to grasp the core root of the values of sport itself. What I mean here is we spend a fortune trying to treat the symptoms of something rather than it's multifaceted cause. It somewhat like a company providing private healthcare to employees who go absent sick, to reduce the sickness figures, rather than attempting to find out why they are on the sick in the first place and removing the cause! What I mean specifically is with all this sport, is that I spent one hour on a running machine yesterday in a gym, which is a feat in itself as running indoors is so boring. Nevertheless the whole hour was spent looking at the music channel on TV, and what can only be described by my generation as ‘soft-porn’ music videos, which depicted women as purely sexual objects, even when the artist was female. These sort of images portray women as sex objects, to be used and stared at AND if you ask any teenager its "cool"!

My point? Things are always a lot more complex than sacking two football pundits and hoping this will change the sexism in sport. Most simplistic ideas are counter-intuitive and fail really to achieve the answer, without causing other problems, hidden away in the system. Just think ASBO, and the now badge of honour having one is, to the disruptive youth. If we are really to achieve diversity, respect and equality (in the true sense) then we need to look deeper, and explore human solutions to human causes. 

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Business Doctor: Be the Boss - Council Update

The Business Doctor: Be the Boss - Council Update: "Just a quick update on life and progress. I am now a visiting Research Fellow at Plymouth, I just found out this week! How nice and it ..."

Be the Boss - Council Update

Just a quick update on life and progress.

I am now a visiting Research Fellow at Plymouth, I just found out this week! How nice and it makes me proud and delighted to be part of a successful research team and University with a vision. I have other job offer changes but will let you know this at a later date.

However, as many who follow me on Twitter know, I did a re-visit to the Council Depot this week to catch up with the latest gossip, news, issues and tantrums. Wow…… what a difference!

The Council, Councilors (Labour mainly) are still acting like five year olds and fighting amongst themselves, the opposition and the Senior Officers anyone it seems to score points, failing to realize the good work that’s going on in the Borough and the impending doom for local authorities and lives at risk. Nothing changes there then, but the greatest change of all…. The Environmental Service Department, the focus of my programme last year.

They are leading by example, with great ethics and passion. The Binmen and Recycling Crews are at one! The work I did last year in removing ‘management’ theory and systems, has been truly taken on, and driven to new heights. I never doubted them, but I never thought it would have such dramatic results so quickly, and this is of course down to people like

Keri Jones (HR), Phil Edwards, Steve Price, Mike Wilcoks, Beth Jones, Justin Hodges (the man), Lisa, John, Matthew Stone, John Issacs, Steve Postlethewaite, to name but a few of the ‘democratic leaders’. The process hasn’t been smooth, but the results amazing. Why? Well its simple, give people the chance to change the system, trust them and allow them to do it their way and the results will always be beyond what you expect. Is it perfect, of course not, no system is perfect, but with this way of thinking we have 60 leaders now not just one as in the old system.

I also have to mention here Alan Reed, the ‘Director’ of Environmental Service, who was brave by volunteering his service, some 15 months ago. He stepped up to the mark, and never wavered in his commitment to change the service, relationship with his team and the public. I am hoping that he will never stop working for the Council and gain some reward and recognition for the tireless effort to support this programme.

The results:
The results at BGCBC (and I use BGCBC to represent the crews rather than the five year olds) are truly wonderful a year on. Not sure if you picked up the press this week, but BGCBC Recycling crews topped the league in Wales for the biggest improvement in recycling rates. From 19% when we first went in to 41% as measured in October, but I can't wait until the official Audit figures come out in May as we suspect they will be in the 50% region. It’s the biggest change in recycling rates WAG have seen. Also the waste to tip is down 140%.....stunning figures, all done by managementless crews/teams by implementing their ideas. Ideas such as Buster & Dean, who went around houses in the evening to ask people to recycle more of their food waste. Also Justin Hodges, who on the programme was, lets say not very happy with me and my ideas, driving the new bins delivery and fortnightly collection implemented seamlessly over the past year.

The binmen were also praised over Christmas being the best authority in the UK for maintaining collections in the snow. In two months of snow disruption the Binmen only missed one day, claimed NO overtime, and lost just one staff day in sickness. Unlike the more affluent, and flatter counties such as Oxford who were a whole month behind collections. I know some out there, will still say so what, but the saving made, the increases in service targets and WAG PI’s are all clear indications that the Environmental Services have it right.

More to follow…