Saturday, November 07, 2009


At last night's Mess dinner, with another spate of British deaths in Afghanistan dominating the week's news, the mood was less exuberant than usual. Rear Admiral Wilcocks, freshly retired from the MoD was guest speaker, and he reflected the mood eloquently. Being free of loyalty obligations for the first time in his working life, he was able to speak like any other citizen about Britain's involvement in the conflict. Whilst he felt certain that the government's policy of engagement was undoubtedly justified, he was critical of the overweight bureaucracy that's meant to support fighting forces, but seems too often to work as more a hindrance to military effectiveness.

It strikes me once more - something I see in the domain of local government all the time - that despite our formidable modern communications technologies, we seem to be less efficient in administration, less capable of communicating usefully and effectively, less fit for purpose than in times past. Perhaps this is to do with values and standards brought into the realm of work, or the way people are managed and motivated, or perhaps job insecurity generating limitations in loyalty to the task appointed.

We're told that everyone can now expect to change their job skill-set four times in their working life. I think that's true for me, although I am fortunate in having worked within church institutions, and only having three 'employers' in forty years, unlike many today who can number dozens of employers and bosses, not to mention jobs and tasks. None of this perpetual change is good for loyalty or commitment. Far too many folk are forever having to learn a job from scratch in a way that doesn't entirely build upon what they already know. That limits the effectiveness of the job undertaken. If people are treated like disposable commodities in the work force, and not as persons, this will be reflected in the product society gets.

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