Time for a change?
“the rich, middle-aged, middle-class white men in suits running the place. They were the ones who got us into this financial and economic mess.”
“Many of these blokes are burnt out, change resistant and playing a game of snakes and ladders they’ve been trying to win for almost 30 years at the expense of their families, mental health, personal growth and engagement with the wider world. They’re out of touch. They’re not the answer.”
Catherine Deveny unleashes a good dose of wit and sharp phrases that I cannot resit re-copying below (acknowledging her copyrights)…
Move over Ians, let the loose cannons have a go
Catherine Deveny, November 12, 2008
I FOUND myself discussing the state of the world over the past few weeks with, among others, a poet, several teachers, a borderline emo, a house painter, people who work in local government, a doctor’s receptionist, a pensioner, a retired leader of the Democrats, a vet, a cleaner, a farmer, a halal butcher, a millionaire, a cabinet maker, a fund-raiser, comedians, a bloke who designs zoos, waiters, a dentist, a gardener, a check-out chick and an ex-prostitute who now works in marketing.
One thing we all agree on is that there are too many rich, middle-aged, middle-class white men in suits running the place. They were the ones who got us into this financial and economic mess. An impenetrable wall of them is not the answer to getting us out of it. Most of you are thinking, “Feel free to state the obvious.” A few of you are thinking, “What on earth is she banging on about?” Let me guess, you’re a middle-aged, middle-class white man in a suit. Crack open a bottle of Grecian 2000 and let your hair down.
We’re not saying Ians should be exterminated. God knows, we need them. Who else would file the tax returns, perform hip replacements and keep Harley Davidson in business? We’re just saying it wouldn’t hurt to cull a few. My suggestion is to organise a program to reduce the number of Ians by 70% and if that fails, some kind of myxomatosis.
Even more terrifying than the disproportionate amount of Ians who have always held the power is the mindless chant of “It’s just the way it is” when you mention it. This may be true, but it doesn’t mean that it’s good, that it works or that it’s not time to subvert the dominant paradigm.
Back to the Ians in a minute. Allow me to go sideways for a bit. The problem about the voluntary redundancy epidemic is that, more often than not, the people who make a run for it are the ones the management should be holding on to. Employees who think “I can do better” go on and flourish thanks to their optimism, incentive and drive. They’ve been stifled by micro managing and bureaucracy and are busting to cut loose.
The employees holding on for dear life are often scared, stale and set in their ways. Most prepared to jump ship should be snapped up, promoted, given an office with a view and a personal assistant. They should be supported to use the imagination, initiative and drive they plan to take elsewhere and given free reign to invigorate the tired business, corporation or institution that’s about to let them go.
The Ians are not taking the involuntary redundancies. They’ve only got 10 or so years to go and they’re nice and cosy thank you very much and can’t be stuffed starting again. They’re just waiting to retire.
The Ians are too expensive to sack and they have “experience”, so what happens? They’re promoted. So no, it’s not just you, it’s everyone and no, it’s not just where you work, it’s everywhere.
What is experience anyway? A bloke who’s been wearing the same clothes and working for the same company doing the same job since he left school? Is that experience? Experience of what? Someone who has tried and failed, lived in different places, worked, volunteered, parented, been a boss, been a slave, been pushed out of their comfort zone and spent time as a minion. That’s experience.
Many being strapped to the rocket of power at the moment are Ians who’ve been waiting patiently in line reading the corporate manuals, networking frantically and going on the team-building golf trips for the past 25 years. Blokes being rewarded for playing the game by the rules. Many of the blokes being looked to for leadership are those who have already failed. In uncertain times people cling to what they know. Or who they know: “He’s a mate and I can’t sack him even though he’s dead wood. Let’s promote him instead.”
Many of these blokes are burnt out, change resistant and playing a game of snakes and ladders they’ve been trying to win for almost 30 years at the expense of their families, mental health, personal growth and engagement with the wider world. They’re out of touch. They’re not the answer.
Yes we need experience, but not at the expense of innovation, new blood and fresh ideas. We need a few mavericks, loose cannons and lateral thinkers. Not a boardroom full of Ians who quash ideas with, “We did that once and it didn’t work. This is how we do things here.”
The Ians set up the power structure and it’s tricky for anyone else to get in without knowing the password, the secret handshake and the magic dance. Apparently you had to have your name put down before you were born.