Thursday, March 23, 2006

Office politics resembles the playground

Dropping my son off to nursery yesterday, I saw children getting down to business in the playground. Aside from the actual work roles, it struck me how similar the characters from a child’s playground are perhaps now to be found in the average workplace. Machiavellian attitude seems to exist at a very young age.

You have the Leader; serious demeanour, aged slightly older and therefore slightly more experience. They assume the position, because of self belief.

Then you have the Perceived Leader (not always the same individual); the person with the better ideas, and more friends. Their friends feel that this individual, with their informal power, should challenge the Leader, however due to limited self belief, these people are not ready for the challenge.

There is the Bully; male or female, who rally their troops each week with a new target to pull to pieces. These people leave little paths of destruction. They know the ropes, having been in the environment for longer than most and they are pretty happy about staying in this position. And yet when their authority of power is questioned, they crumble pretty quickly.

I saw a Joker in the playground; I know these exist in most workplace as I feel that a portion of this individual is me. They are the comedian, the fool, the arse. In the playground they make up songs, jokes, games. In the workplace, they leave notes to call My Lyon on other peoples’ desks, and when the individual calls back, they find it is London Zoo. Perhaps lacking in size, or positional power, they make up with wit and are therefore continuously running into the Bully.

What about the Subservient?; They are eager to please everyone, usually to the detriment of themselves. Their beautifully packed lunch, or in the office their home-made cake and due diligence report are everyone’s property.

The Groupie; these are the support networks around the Leader, the Perceived Leader and the Bully. These are the hyenas of the playground or the office, with little grey matter amongst the lot of them. What they do have is killer instinct, a trait left over from the dinosaur or raptor era, a hunter mentality.

The Organiser; invaluable in any environment, these individuals are the doers rather than talkers.

The Stylist; they are the fashion police. First to the playground with proudly worn knee-high socks or the new hairstyle, or even one of their older brother’s cigarettes, the ability to pick up a trend first has stayed with them. These days they are involved with sponsoring World Vision or green flares.

And finally, the Moaner; intelligent but fearful of change, they have been there forever and resentful about the people, not the situation.

It would seem that apart from growing in size, leopards do not change their spots and the concept of management is the ability to handle a three year olds’ temper tantrum. I would love to get your feedback on which of these you have at your work - I am sure there are more to add!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stop global warming - hug an economist

My brother is a free market economist - a real one, who works with organisations like the UN, the WTO and the giant shape-shifting lizards that control the world. We get together whenever we can, and we usually argue. Our latest argument was held in Paris, because Mum was visiting and Paris is halfway between my home and his two.

Being a free market economist, I thought he would have a more enlightened approach to global warming. But he does not, as I will explain.

The basic facts are that, despite popular opinion, the scientists are divided about whether global warming is natural, or is caused by the unnatural intervention of human waste, polution and other sorts of intervention generally caused by industrialisation (and globalisation of you are one of those globalised anti-globalisation protesters, known fondly to most of us as Marxists).

My brother argues that it is a natural phenomenon, there is nothing we can do, so we should just juice up the Maybach - unless you can find something bigger - and drive around watching DVDs and sipping Martinis until the cows come home, or the milk is delivered, depending on your politics. And this is where his argument comes unstuck, because the cause of global warming is largely irrelevant.

We have been presented with two scenarios:
  1. It is our fault and unless we do something we are all going to die in an ice age triggered by global warming
  2. It is nature's fault, there is nothing we can do, we are all going to die in an ice age triggered by global warming
We also have two options:
  1. Do something
  2. Do nothing
With two possible outcomes:
  1. If we do nothing, the world will get hotter, the polar ice caps will melt, causing the Gulf Stream to reverse, there will be another ice age, and we will all die
  2. If we do something, the world will get hotter, the polar ice caps will melt, causing the Gulf Stream to reverse, there will be another ice age - or not! - it may not happen - our actions might make a difference and we will all die of old age instead of ice age
Also, doing something will increase economic activity through the researching and developing new techologies like bio-fuels and efficiency innovations like BMW's Turbosteamer, and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, especially oil. That, in turn, will reduce the power of OPEC over the world's economies, easing the influence that oil prices have over monetary policy (oil prices and interest rates have similar impacts).

And most importantly, if we are all going to die anyway, be it by ice age, or old age, we may as well have fun on the way. Let's try these new ideas: let's make our cars go faster, and handle better, powered by a bowl of porrige and a pair of stockings. Let's make our paints less toxic, our buildings warmer, or better ventilated, or lit by solar tubes. Let's make our planes fly in space to save fuel, or go the slow way round in zepelins. Let's build massive, computer designed, hyper efficient sailing ships to move cargo about. Let's have electric cars, or ride bikes to work - it's more fun than a bus. Let's take the time to walk home, instead of rushing to get to the gym before dinner. Let's take control of our lives, of our world and the way we live. Let's say,
If we're going down, we'll go down kicking!
Oh, you could also help settle our argument by taking part in this very worthy research project.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An ode to Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou - aka George Michael.

He is only 42 years old and in the middle of another balls-up. So, is George stepping up on to his soapbox in his own speaker’s corner with a message to read between the lines?

Spinning supposedly out of control, in a manner similar to that of Brian Harvey of East17 fame or Boy George in his New York apartment, this week the George Michael was found slumped over his car’s wheel. Rather than a public lavatory in Los Angeles, Hyde Park Corner was the scene for his latest public appearance. On the surface it seems that over the past several years, George is more and more amounting to little.

Man, I am a fan. Well, for the second half of his career anyway. Wham wasn’t for me – I wasn’t sure of those fluro t-shirts and magnificently groomed hair-pieces. But I am sure that his solo career was absolutely pure and simple ambrosia. Don’t you line him up to be stoned… I am confident that at least one of his 85 million records belonged to you at one stage.

Is his situation to lead once again to questioning from his public? My feeling on him being found comatose in his car at 2am is perhaps a sign of an individual who has little left. The Sun has claimed that sex toys were found in the boot of his car, which was parked at an amazingly dangerous angle to the curb and that strong alcohol could provide the dutch-pride, yet what are we to read into this?

The Times comments on the fact that perhaps his personal tragedies; the loss of his boyfriend Anselmo Feleppa to Aids and the death of his mother ten years ago to cancer, have taken his ambition away. Yet, is it sufficient reason to stick one’s head in the proverbial oven?

“It was my own stupid fault”, he said in a statement last night. Feeling a trifle embarrassed after spending a night in a police cell, photos showed George looking tired.

Back in 2001, ‘George from North London’ called in live to ITV1 to wish ‘all the best’ to the departing presenters Richard and Judy from This Morning. Might this week’s episode in Hyde Park have relevance as another attempt by George to comment indirectly to his public on his plight? “The only thing I care about is that people know that I was properly tested by a police doctor on Saturday night, who stated … that I was not impaired in any way and should be allowed to drive home”.

Why should George need to lie to his public? Is this a sign of prolonged indifference, put down… perhaps to the heart of his matter? Nothing to see here – move on people.

Let’s go outside
In the moonshine
Take me to the places that I love best

There’s nothing here but flesh and bone
there’s nothing more, nothing more
let’s go outside

When the moon is high
and the grass is jumpin’
come on, just keep on funkin’