We can do it!

we can make itUnited States President, Barack Obama is well-known as an inspirational speaker and leader. His State of the Union message, delivered on January 28th, received global media coverage. The consensus is that this was another inspirational tour de force, not just for Americans but many others who have been undergoing hard times.

It doesn’t matter that there are differences about the policies, programmes and political agenda; at one point or another, your heart was stirred Continue reading

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The high cost of patronage

barbados map flagThis time last year there was heavy public debate around the competing promises of parties vying to be elected. This year, the discussions are even more intense around a failing economy and how to fix it; quickly.

There is an age old adage: “to the victor goes the spoils” and six years ago, there were blatant statements of dividing up the “fatted calf”. The traditional methods of patronage have been in the creation and awarding of jobs. Certainly the previous government engaged in patronage and after three terms, the electorate decided to correct the imbalance. However, it has not turned out to be a ‘correction” but Continue reading

ORGANISATION RENEWAL SERIES: DIAGNOSIS AND ENROLMENT

THIS WEEK we will look at the initial stage in Organisation Renewal: Diagnosis and Enrollment.

Formal Corporate Meeting RoomThe process begins with an executive orientation where they are briefed and coached on what they must do to ensure the integrity of the process.  At this orientation, they also help to plan and approve the implementation.

Next, they must communicate the need for everyone’s cooperation and commitment as a keystone for success.  Stakeholders such as suppliers, sponsors, investors, governments and families of employees Continue reading

What is the Real Score?

Election campaigns are now in full swing with lots of “noise at the barricades”. As I try to sort through manifestos, promises and boasts, I am left with the question: What’s the real score”? In the midst of all this party tribalism and the litanies of historic grievances; it’s like trying to watch a sporting event that has no scoreboard.

MM900395774The politically intense will reply with references to “voter swing”, at risk constituencies and a tally of political gaffes by their opponents. We mustn’t forget the economic statistics and claims of what has been done, should have been done and why it wasn’t possible. It seems like an athlete that’s involved in a competition but more preoccupied with making personal points or playing to the crowd. That is a sure formula for defeat.

From where I sit, both major parties seem to have gaining power as their objective and are using fragmented “solutions” without the context of a confirmed diagnosis. For example, education is an area that is sure to evoke deep emotional reactions. After all, we are renowned for our high literacy rate and it is a cornerstone of national development. However, the circumstances that existed when Errol Barrow made education universally available have changed drastically and we are struggling to put “lipstick on a pig” that needs major restructuring. Is it possible that the countless dispirited people unable to support themselves and increasing lawless behaviour are like the umpire’s finger going up in a cricket match?

Our vaunted social partnership seems to only emerge in episodes of crisis and make a calming return to the status quo of contentious industrial relations with government as a referee. Heck, university graduates with advanced degrees feel as aggrieved as the average wage-earner. Too often, they insist that they are entitled to pay far more than the actual value of the work they produce and employers are then saddled with labour costs that strangle their businesses.

MM900236244These are just two examples that are eating at the core of Barbados’ development as a nation. The ponderous inefficiency of government services and questions around ethical and respectful behaviour warrant mention as well. Alas, I have word limit so I will take this up further in other articles.

There should be no gloating by either party because both are culpable. Barbados’ political stability rests on the fact that regardless of who is in power, things remain essentially the same. It seems that this “stability” is an over-played strengthen and we are in danger of becoming a one-trick pony.

I am very aware that these are politically sensitive areas. They are the veritable “sacred cows” of Barbados society. It is said that: “Sacred cows make the best hamburger”. No disrespect intended to Hindus.

There has been much talk during this campaign about leadership. I submit that effective leaders must answer two questions constantly: What are we working on? (Vision) and How are we doing? (Performance). We live in a democracy but democratic management is a failed concept.

Our leaders may want to consider a modified version of a “balanced scorecard” that covers and aligns the breadth of key functional areas. They can then report against measurable targets at agreed milestones. Maybe then, we will be able to follow and participate in the game.

God bless.

Prepared for the February 18, 2013 “Strong Suit” column in the Barbados Business Authority.

Dennis Strong can be reached at supremeservices@caribsurf.com