Management by knee jerk reaction? By the end Malcolm and Barnbyof last week we must have got close to a perfect “stuff-up” score for Malcolm and Barnaby; a dead heat I would say.  How can our “peak body” policy makers be making such a mess of basic good management and leadership?  They seem to be stuck in an old-fashioned management style based on activities and tasks rather than a modern outcome approach which identifies and measures the performance by empowering the people to deliver on what we hired or elected them to do.  Rather than looking up to these “statespersons” and taking the lead from them, they have now become the laughing stock of the country.

If business had the same level of internal management distractions and loss of image, the owner/board would quickly step-in and stop the bleeding.  However, well managed businesses would not allow public debate nor apply the knee-jerk, activity-based responses like we saw last Thursday.  They would have the outcomes needed to deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives defined and internal processes would be applied.  From the outside it would appear that the coalition has no such “strategic direction” or framework of indicators as to how they  achieve and manage the success of the delivery of the strategy, collectively or as individual contributors.  Is an elected party or coalition any different to a well-managed business?

Malcolm, we hope you have a team working on your list of instructions for the next set of activities of “unacceptable behaviour” which will might include; drunk and disorderly, gambling, drugs/smoking, driving irresponsible, bullying, unbecoming dress, lying, contradiction and undermining of colleagues, inappropriate communication with the media etc., etc. – oops Barnaby here comes another off the cuff instruction.  If business ran on lists of activities to cover every possible event, they would have volumes of instructions that would be difficult to manage and challenged until the cows came home.  In this day and age, we work on identifying the necessary outcomes for the organisation and establishing the measures that identify if the outcomes are being delivered to the standard expected.  The policies, procedures and guidelines (Code of conduct) then support these outcomes.  A “political” good governance model would be a good start.

Without knowing the facts, it is not possible to enter into the debate on Barnaby’s compliance with best practice organisational design, position definition and “recruitment” of the most competent persons for the appropriate National Party staff position.  However, a basic audit of the organisational and HR procedures applied should quickly determine this – it is called transparency.  A similar procedural audit on, for example, gifts of accommodation, should follow the same process.  This compliance process should be before any judgement on whether his private life and public demonstration has impacted on his ability to represent the people of his electorate and lead the party.  Has the competence and attributes/values demonstrated, changed since the people and party voted?  This is basic, not revolutionary, management, so are the advisors for each “leader” providing the appropriate advice or are they relying on audit by media?

Mr Prime Minister, I would be surprised if there is not a set of outcomes that define the performance, behaviour and image portrayed (ask Tony he says he knows where the code of conduct is), but I would not be surprised if the performance measures are not defined let alone quantified.  Management and leadership techniques have developed since those days.  Organisations can define these outcomes and the measures that go with them for all levels from the Board down to the operational levels.  The management approach then changes to one where we empower the “employees or colleagues” to deliver the outcomes to defined performance levels.  This empowerment enables the deliverers (employees, colleagues etc) to use their initiative and innovation to deliver the outcomes the organisation has set, usually at or above the levels of expectation.  Bob Hawke empowered his team well in the beginning – but ultimately ego seemed to out-way competence.

Max Underhill

Maxumise Consulting Pty Ltd