Sadly, every day I am told what’s wrong, what’s missing, who’s breaking the rules in a variety of contexts, work, social and domestic. Using external constraints to generate required behaviour should have been rejected as not fit for purpose aeons ago. When we have reward system that values money, status, and appearances over character, why are we surprised at the resulting mess? I remember being “head-hunted” for a role that turned out to be illusory when I asked a couple of challenging questions the head hunter should have expected. It then became clear that the headhunter was (a)really interested in my current boss, not me at all, and (b)he was uninterested in how the guy or anyone else got results even if it meant the very short-term performance gain from his actions would be at the expense of the quality of the business’s assets and earnings, and it would then need massive expenditure to correct matters once he was gone. The head hunter even mentioned two high-profile public appointments he had done where this was the case and he was VERY PROUD of it. I remember the incisive mind and wit of Anthony Wegdewood Benn who shared the following story with the House of Commons.

“I expect that the House has heard of the little document which is circulating about the boat race between the NHS and a Japanese crew. Both sides tried hard to do well, but the Japanese won by a mile. The NHS was very discouraged and set up a consultancy. The consultancy came to the conclusion that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering, whereas the NHS had eight people steering and one rowing.

“The NHS appointed people to look at the problem and decided to reorganise the structure of the team so that there were three steering managers, three assistant steering managers and a director of steering services, and an incentive was offered to the rower to row harder.

“When the NHS lost a second race, it laid off the rower for poor performance and sold the boat. It gave the money it got from selling the boat to provide higher than average pay awards for the director of steering services. That is what is happening all over the place.”

In live shows he would sometimes use the BBC instead to illustrate the point

Luckily for me I started working for myself and left this kind of nonsense behind me. I am pleased to say I have found many people (from all walks of life)looking for better answers to the crisis of institutional distrust and failure of social institutions that many comment on. It starts with better questions and better internal actions to recreate the character that we all instinctively yearn to be a part of. It continues with clearer thinking and more honest self-examination, then ultimately bravery and determination to actually dare to claim a much better world.