Monday, 16 February 2009

Soviet Planners and networking

" Inside every Chief Executive , there's a Soviet planner ".

This alarming headline appeared over a story by Observer Business Editor Simon Caulkin. He argues that ,

" The truth is that much conventional management is central planning in western disguise. This is why most companies are zombie like in their structural and strategic similarity. That is why too they are unable to learn . With their faces toward the CEO and their arses towards the customer - in the immortal words of Jack Welch - what would they learn from ? "

The image is compelling! Of course it is not like that here in acevo ! Now what do I think of this? In some ways , of course , a CEO wants staff who are disciplined and know what is needed by the Boss . Nothing worse than the staff who think they know better than you and do things we don't want . On the other hand it is essential to have a customer focus . For ACEVO this is about what our members want .

The morning starts well with a fantastic , though heart-breaking, account of dementia by John Suchet on " Today" . It had one of my members Amelda Redmond , CEO of Carers UK ,talking about how difficult it is to get proper funding to support carers and to help the many people who want to be at home but are in advancing stages of Alzheimer's. It is a brilliant reminder of just how crucial our sector is in delivering public services . I speak about this later at a big Conference on Transformational Public services , in front of a large local authority audience.

I have breakfast with one of my Board members , Bridget Warr , who runs Guide Dogs for the Blind .We eat in the Cinnamon Club , always a great networking spot and I alk to Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary at DCLG and my old Oxford friend Roger Liddle , right hand man to Peter Mandleson . The last time I lunched here the Manager commented , as I left ,that I appeared to have missed one table, I had been so assiduous in chatting to people I knew on the way in and out . But you know , networking is a core competence for a CEO. You can't run an organisation like ACEVO if you don't network . I wrote a guide to networking some 5 years ago . Its time for an update and I have agreed to do the new version with headhunter extraordinaire , David Fielding . ( A small number of copies of my guide still available from ACEVO; click here to order a copy)

The Aged Parents have been visiting my sister Sara and so met my holidaying Hound . My Mother thought that the Hound's licking ( and she is an inveterate licker, dog that is ) was excessive and demonstrated a lack of discipline and failure of her eldest son to exert proper control and boundary setting . I like to think a proper child of the 60s approach to parenting . I am missing said Hound , though it is pleasant to be able to find my shoes and slippers , and to be able to get out of the house with my shoe laces done up and my face unmolested!

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