Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama the New Manager

(I'll get this post out before the President's address to the nation tonight, because maybe he will change course and this thought will become OBE).

I briefly saw the President at a press conference with Admiral Allen on TV the other day. It struck me that something was wrong. I thought it was he seemed to be so engaged in the details. Too engaged in the details frankly. I thought the President should be providing the vision and bringing people together to find solutions. Not worrying about "whose ass to kick."

Then today I following a HotAir link to the Tina Brown article in The Daily Beast. She nails it
"Obama can’t change his cool disposition though it would be nice if he lost the vaguely grudging air he gives off that problems of management get in the way of ideas."
She goes on to describe how Bill Clinton would have brought the people, the key players, together to make things happen.
By now Clinton would have reached out to every one on the planet (even James Cameron) who knew anything about deep sea drilling, BP, big oil, and wetland wildlife and absorbed those competing opinions into the radar of his responses. He would have convened all those Republican Gulf State governors at the White House right away, and in doing so won political points for showing the true meaning of bipartisanship. He would have summoned not just this new BP character, the faceless chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, but the familiar, juicy target, Tony Hayward—if only so the public could see the delinquent CEO ordered like a chastened schoolboy to the principal’s office. He would have convened not just BP but all the other oil companies to force out the best ideas in a fanfared Oval Office meeting. And for sure he would have called James Carville personally and got his yelling fetus-face off CNN.

She provides a great illustration of the problem. Having never been an executive, or even a manager, the President has run into the well-known tension between great ideas about management and actually getting things done. He's experiencing what happens when great ideas come up against the hard work of bringing people along to turn those ideas and visions into reality. It's the difference between being a visionary leader or a merely a visionary.

There's an old saying that comes to mind, experienced managers know its truth. "Management would be easy if it weren't for all the people."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taliban Hang Seven Year Old for Spying

Via HotAir, we hear the most awful story of the day, the Times Online reports
"A seven-year-old boy was executed by the Taleban in a brutal act of retribution this week, after his grandfather dared to resist the insurgency’s iron rule."

But there is a strange line in the report.
The killing of children to punish their parents has chilling echoes of western mafia-style violence. Under Pashtunwali, the complex and ancient honour code of the Pashtuns, it is likely to spawn generations of vendettas and blood letting.

Why is that there? Some weird East/West moral equivalence? Another way to frame the Taliban as criminal gangs?

Is it even true? Is that a typical Mafia tactic? A dogpile search on "mafia killing children" and "mafia murder children" came up with two specific stories. One report of a failed 2009 plot in Sicily also mentioned the 1995 murder of an informants 13 year old child. A second hit gives us a Wiki page on the Black Mafia (Nation of Islam) murder of a family, including five children, the Hanafi murders. There were a few general references, but those were the only specifics.

For something to be a "chilling echo" it should remind you of something. The only thing the line reminded me of was that I had never heard of the Mafia killing the children of informers. Mafia killing the children of informers just doesn't seem like common practice.

So the Taliban horrors are "chilling echoes of western mafia?" I don't think so. Weird, just weird.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Angry President Looking to Kick Ass

The latest pronouncement from our angry president comes via Hotair, on Chuck Todd's twitter feed.
POTUS to Matt Lauer: said he isn't talking with experts as an academic exercise but to find out info so he knows "whose ass to kick."

First off, that this language from any president diminishes the office. That said, profanity and tough talk can serve to communicate some things. So how is this different from when our last President declared that "we're kicking ass" in Iraq? Well, President Bush made the call from a position of strength. He was vastly unpopular, but the surge was working.  His "kicking ass" was his assessment of the positive results brought above by his policy. Positive results paid for in real blood and sweat. Although the comment was directed to the Australian prime minister, it was heard and motivating to the troops.

Compare that to President Obama's statement. He too is vastly unpopular, but this is a situation that he has not yet gotten under control. He's not trying to inspire others to action or recognize their results, he's calling attention to his actions. To what he is gonna do. A problem is he hasn't done it yet. He's telling us that he want to kick some ass.

Of course, he could just be channeling Hank Hill.

UPDATE: Instalanche! Thanks Professor. Welcome folks, stay awhile and take a look around. BTW, the full Hank Hill quote was "Who is calling me a liar, you or the machine? 'Cause I need to know whose ass to kick."