Talking of c-type managers: today there was a news item that signifies pretty well what’s wrong in the Dutch echelons. A few months ago people in the main building of Rijkswaterstaat ‘felt the building shake sometimes’ as in ‘the felt light tremors they couldn’t explain’. Managers decided that the personnel could be in danger, that the building needed to be thoroughly investigated, and all 1500 employees were evacuated and housed for months on a different location, after which an – of course expensive – building investigation team was put on the job.
They investigated for about two months. Today the rapport came out. Conclusion? The tremors we’re caused by the bins of the window-cleaners, who had just started washing all the windows of the building.
Are you still there? Can you even for a single moment imagine the manager sin charge here whom, even when its bleedingly obvious that window-cleaners have just started a job COULD NOT make a connection with feeling light tremors inside?
It’s this inability of making associative connections that is going around like a plague last 15 years. Combined with an obnoxious sort of ‘panic-culture’ where every little bunny in sight is a dangerous terrorist setting of a terror alarm.
What sort of shirtlifter evacuates a 1500 people workplace because of some slight tremors? This whole affair cost millions and millions of euros. Only because some people in management have never learned how to think about a problem. Because the first thing anyone would do is consider whatever is new: if there are giant bins placed around the building for washing the windows which previously were absent then it’s pretty damn obvious those could be the cause of these tremors. I don’t even have to explain that to an intelligent reader. But being in a severe economic crisis and at the same time wasting money on this sort of nonsense is really rather the cause of that ‘economic crisis’ in the first place. with money these boneheads wasted by being unable to think properly they could have easily build another one of those buildings.
What exactly causes this abominable dysfunction of the thought and association system? Well the truth is the people in these ‘management-layers’ are not ‘decision-makers’ at all, rather often you will see that they are people whose entire life consisted of an uneventful ‘go with the flow’ where they never had to make a single important decision at all – or even if they did: every company they ever ruined with their incompetent decisions becomes just another item on their resume. Think ‘George Bush’ here. Every company he managed went down the drain. That’s basically what is wrong with our leaders: they have endless resumes, and no real accomplishments.
What makes a person into a ‘leader’ capable of making the right decisions? It is certainly not ‘going with the flow’ and just doing what you are told. But that’s exactly how 95% get into these kind of jobs: they do what they are told, build up their long resume, and the longer the resume the better they get paid in the end.
The problem is not even that these resumes would be fake. It’s irrelevant if they are. Even if they are real, they don’t mean a thing. Resumes are what actually has destroyed decent corporate culture: as long as employers cannot find a decent alternative we will have bosses and leaders who can’t even think for longer than 10 seconds in a row, let alone solve any real problem.
Let us conclude this little daily meditation with a poem by the wonderful Wislawa Szymborska about the same problem:
WRITING A RESUME
What needs to be done?
Fill out the application
and enclose your resume.
Regardless of the length of life,
a resume is best kept short.
Concise, well-chosen facts are required.
Landscapes are replaced by addresses,
flimsy memories by fixed dates.
Of all your loves, mention only the marriage;
of all your children, only those who were born.
Who knows you matters more than whom you know.
Trips only if taken abroad.
Memberships of what but without answering why.
Honors, but not how they were earned.
Write as if you’ve never talked to yourself
and always kept yourself at arm’s length.
In silence pass over your dogs, cats, birds,
dusty keepsakes, friends, and dreams.
Better the price than the worth,
the title than the content,
The shoe size, not where it’s walking to,
the one you pass off as yourself.
In addition, a photograph with one ear showing.
What matters is its shape, not what it hears.
What is there to hear, anyway? The clatter of paper shredders.