Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 10

I had an unexpectedly good day as work is building up again. I started early in the morning - and this is always helpful as I consider myself a 'morning person' - and got some work done. My day was good as I could intervene and part-solve a crisis, read books, and even our accountant told me that I should not consider there is a closed door and if I need money, I should indeed turn to him. I couldn't expect more surely.

One issue resurfaced again. This whole thing about long term/short term thinking. I would think this is a bane of modern society - the inevitable drift towards short-term thinking. It is not about people, really. It is about how things are structured. Professional Management, Democratic Politicians, Public Listed Companies - by their very nature are biased towards short-term thinking. I am not saying that this is necessarily bad - politicians should not start thinking Long Term like Robert Mugabe, surely. And, also, quite obviously, there is no set rule for what is short term and what is long term. We deal with a publishing company which has recently gone into training, but their thinking is so attuned to the publishing mindset, we find them very short term in our business context. However, it is impossible to explain to them why it is so, as they can't ever see it.

I am still reading Bush at War. This makes a fascinating read. This gives out an insider's view of Iraq's reconstruction work. Fascinating how a bunch of smart men can come together and be rendered completely ineffective by petty politicking. Rumsfeld appears to be the villain of the piece as I read it. However, as one closes the book and thinks, one sees the real problem. Leadership. In this whole story, Bush was a very casual leader, almost uninvolved, in fact, almost disinterested. It almost seemed he achieved what he wanted to achieve by becoming the President. He appeared a good guy, throughout, jovial, humane, but not in control. Not analysing, understanding what is happening around him. He may have had good ideas, but no intent or ability to implement any of those.

I must mention here why this seems to be an useful read for me at this time. Well, I see some of my current mistakes reflected here. For last six months, I have been running the business in a hands-off style. I accepted this as inevitable, as I am based in the UK and the operations are in six different countries. But I do feel that I am not in control, and even if I have good ideas, things don't get done. Partly the reason lies in my personal discipline, focus - which I am trying to shore up and get in place. But, also, there is an element of lack of interest, self-doubt, which affected me over last few months. Somewhat like Bush, as I started the job, I almost got what I wanted, and forgot to define the next level goal. I am trying to become a visionary and a theoretician, but I / we haven't reached that stage yet. This is something which I should urgently address - not just in these 100 days to sort out my own priorities and focus, but also being hands-on and actually by seeing ideas through to execution.

I shall end this conversation commenting upon one announcement British Government has made on Wednesday. Harriet Harman announced that the Government will bring legislation to stop all forms of age discrimination. The ministers believe that we are becoming an ageist society, and something needs to be done quickly. Age discrimination at workplace, including in the recruitment process, is illegal since October 2006. One can't advertise for 'young enthusiastic sales assistants' any more, nor stop a near-retirement worker to be sent for training. Or, to be accurate, people still do that, as these are deep-rooted habits, till someone flags this up. However, the government still believes that there is widespread discrimination in the other walks of life, in health care for example, and they are planning a comprehensive law to ban that. Technically, a birthday card with an ageist message will become illegal once this legislation comes in place [it will already be counted as an offence if this was sent to a colleague].

However, this is all very good, until someone looks at Government's own work practises. I shall talk about migration policies. The policies are specifically biased towards younger workers. For example, for the Tier 1 migration, which is high-skilled migration, one gets extra points for being less than 30 year old. The earlier version of this - the Highly Skilled Migration Programme, one that I used to come to Britain - gave extra points to people less than 30 and had a lower requirement level too. While the rationale is easy to explain, this is certainly ageist. I am not sure why a corporation can not use this rationale - building a workforce for tomorrow - to hire younger workers. This is possibly the key problem with this labour government - they exclude themselves from all their good-intent governance.

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