The guidance is not always right

We are cursed in the fact that we live in interesting times. The economy is going haywire in lots of countries and nobody seems to know how to solve the problem. The Americans and Mr Hollande in France seem to follow the old adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”. Is this wise? Who knows, but the US economy does seem to be crawling ahead, very slowly.

Mrs Merkel and our own Dave follow the austerity route and this does not seem to work well here or in Greece or Spain. Personally I think this may be the better route in the long run, but then, in the long run we are all dead, so it’s questionable whether we will ever find out.

None of this has much to do with my blog, except that whatever governments do about the economy, everyone appears to agree we have to do something about regulation. We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer think for ourselves, seek something or someone to blame, and need to be trained at everything. Whatever the case, you have to have some regulation in place in advance to deal with every eventuality.

You don’t believe me? Well let me give you an example. It was most unfortunate for some people to attempt to drive through a ford, simply because their sat nav told them to. Sadly they had not taken into consideration it has been raining for 40 days and nights (and there is still a drought out there) so the ford was four and half feet deep. The report I heard was actually blaming sat navs. The sat nav manufacturer should probably have issued a disclaimer up front to say that the user should take weather conditions into account.

In a company I have had some dealings with a new phone system was being installed. Not really a new system, just a different provider. The question posed was when the staff would get trained. I am still curious in what they should be trained.

It is challenging to decide how to run your company and to know when you reach a tipping point. Contrary to the moto on what to do when the going gets tough, my first advice is to stay away from spending money you do not have. My second is to spend the money in a way that reduces costs or increases revenue. Otherwise, don’t spend. I think the same is true for the governments, but let’s not go there.

Create an environment where people learn, share and above all, do not seek to blame. Training is important (Richard Lambert will probably confirm this) but not to the point where nobody thinks anymore. We have reached a danger point where the thinking seems to have gone the way of map reading and most of us fortunately know that the guidance is not always right.

3 comments for “The guidance is not always right

  1. Peter Hanley
    16 May, 2012 at 08:57


    Ah yes, lessons.

    I’m glad you had a great time, as chances are you did learn lessons that kept reminding themselves to you, sometimes without you knowing it.

    Sadly there are people in organisations and situations who are being told they must learn lessons. Sometimes regulators ask that we learn lessons, or that they will learn lessons. These people don’t have the important advantage of having a great time at work.

    So perhaps that is the biggest realisation to emerge from this dialogue for me at any rate: if we’re not allowed to think for ourselves, we won’t learn lessons. Without learning real lessons we won’t improve our businesses. And our society will become more and more expensive to run because it is supporting all these unresolved mistakes.

    If this is true, then something needs to be done very soon. Before we really lose the ability to think and learn lessons.

    Maybe it would be a start if we all aspired to have a great time in whatever work we are doing!


  2. Peter Hanley
    15 May, 2012 at 22:05


    Well done. How very well said!

    We are well past the tipping point. Regulators are so swamped in the ‘map-reading’ approach to legislation, they haven’t realised they are encouraging us not to think. Regulation is supposed to be ‘Goal Seeking’ where you’re allowed to think yourself out of adverse situations. Yet the old comfort blanket of Prescriptive regulation is always within reach, and often used to smother our thinking.

    There is a different way forward, yet it is so radical it will scare both the regulator and the regulated. It’s called working with the real reality just as the world, nature and the universe serve it up to us. It appears chaotic, uncontrollable and unpredictable. Yet I for one would rather aim for this if it did me and everyone else a lot of good. Rather than submit to the ever larger tsunami of contrived order being dished out to us, in the name of [apparent] prosperity and hope.

    What say you Dirk?

    • EntBrit
      16 May, 2012 at 07:49

      When I first joined the productive sector (after leaving banking) I was with a company which appeared like a complete wild west. We all had a great time, yet our policies (we were then still US owned) were actually very tight. Within them you got lots of room to manoeuvre.
      Of course lots of people could not work this way and in fact the money was on me only surviving 6 weeks. I stayed for years, thrived and had a ball and it also taught me many of the most important business lessons I ever learned. Certainly more than my MBA and all the formal training clap trap.
      You may enjoy this week’s blog as it is on a similar subject, but I won’t reveal more yet.

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