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Tag: general election

To have created a window of opportunity is the British genius as producing Obama was the American genius

A very British hang over!

Today, we still have a hang over. We agonized about how to vote and we trudged off to vote with sinking hearts.  Few of us voted for someone we really wanted to represent us.  We voted to hang parliament.  And we achieved our goal.  Somewhat improbably I think.  In a surprising example of the possibilities of crowd sourcing without central control, a highly irritated British electorate set out to hang parliament and achieved its goal.

Regretting that we did it our way?

This would be story enough but I noticed today that the #ukelection #ge2010 stream on Twitter is jumpy and nervous.   The politicians are doing their thing.  They seem to be acting responsibly.  Though the press have tried to exaggerate the odd moment, no one has made a rash intemperate move.   Talks are continuing.  Leaders and party members are consulting.  Discussants on programs like Any Questions are providing good thoughtful background pieces.

Why are those of us who wanted a hung parliament panicking now that we have it?

Making sense of success and failure is hard

I once did some research with a then-student, Phil Mlambo, on student politicians who elbow their way onto committees and don’t do what they promised.  This is a fascinating psychological phenomenon.  When we have gone to such trouble and made promises publicly, we should be motivated to do what we said we would do.  Though in many ways the opposite to pursuing a hung parliament and panicking when we get one, we may have something to learn from what Phil discovered.

Phil did a fantastic piece of fieldwork.  He tracked 50 student politicians who had made a public promise to do something for their group the very next day.  And he interviewed them again the following evening.  They had all started. They had all set off confidently with no doubt that they would do what they promised.   But only 50% succeeded.  The 50% who succeeded remained confident.  The 50% who failed were disconcerted and unsure how to interpret their experience.  Disappointed, frustrated & embarrassed, they felt they were to blame.

Phil took down the full story of their day and as we untangled events,  in every case, there was no sign of laziness.  Nor was there any sign of undue external events.  There was simply daily life mixed with inexperience and unexpected conditions.  The students had assumed the person they had wanted to see would be available. They had assumed goods they wanted to buy would be available in the quantity and sizes that they imagined.  In all cases of failure, students had been thwarted by a mixture of chance and an absence of contingent  thinking.

So here we are.  Surprised  by our success and alarmed by our success.  Are we just inexperienced and startled that we moved into the next stage of negotiation quite so easily?  Are we surprised that Plan A worked and now find ourselves without Plan A2?

Reflected best self

As a relative newcomer to the UK, I must say that I am impressed.  Migrants took a battering in this election and it might surprise Brits to know what migrants think of you.  OK, I tease a little.  Positive organizational scholarship has an interesting technique called “reflected best self” – RBS – not to be confused with the bank, of course.

In reflective best self, we take the good things that people say about us, and ponder on them.

A long standing migrant, who is now a  British citizen, told me that although the English are very inefficient (you do know people say that about you?), though the English are notoriously inefficient, when it matters they come through.

We have a very short election season here of 6 weeks.  I noticed  the quality of debate did pick up markedly but it was still weak.  By the time election day came around, I felt depressed.  I dragged myself to the polling booth bribing myself with the chance to use a pencil tied to a piece of string (yes, that’s true).

But when I woke late on Friday and heard the balance in power had been achieved, my first thought was “We have given ourselves a chance.”  I felt relieved.

Most of all I was amazed that the electorate had done what it said it would do.  That was a difficult feat.  I felt proud for the British.  My estimation of their ability, character and judgment shot up.   My sense of collective efficacy, my sense that people around me can and will do what they say, shot up.

To have created a window of opportunity is the British genius as producing Obama was the American genius

I am relaxed about the political discussions going on right now.  For the first time, I feel that the British political system works.  Yes, we have a period of hard negotiation to get through.  But to have created a window of opportunity is the British genius as producing Obama was the American genius.

I feel good, not in that heady I feeeel  gooood way that presages a fall.  I feel good in that way we feel when we are rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work.

Well done, Britain.  We are proud of you!

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Bad job descriptions . . . norm and embarrassment

Do you want traffic to your blog?  Write about bad job descriptions!  I mean it ~ bad job descriptions.  See, I know how to do SEO.  Bad job descriptions.  People put bad job descriptions into Google.

Amazing.  But they don’t have to search far. Job descriptions are uniformly bad, spinny and scammy and show woeful lack of understanding of the purpose of a job.

In the throes of a general election, Britain, home of satire, has produced this wonderful spoof of the typical HRM effort at describing what we do at work. Jobsgopublic.

It’s funny, very funny, but not so much for the HR profession. When will we lift our game?

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Meeting of hopes & dreams: will that happen in this General Election?

Affect images and political campaigns

“for the student who seeks to learn; the voter who demands to be heard; the innocent who longs to be free; and the oppressed who yearns to be equal.”

I badly want to hear candidates in the general election describe “we the voters”.  I so badly want to hear.

I want to feel the “throbbing resonance” of shared beliefs, shared purpose and shared hopes.  I want to feel the protection of an arm around me as we whisper our fears.

As a relative newcomer to UK, I want to hear the shared mythology that long time residents share and reassure them we are in this together. I want to see their shoulders relax and their eyes light up.

We are a different place from the US and we are on a different journey.  And maybe in my noobe status, I am not hearing what is being said.

Maybe though we are going to have big surprises when the results are announced.  Maybe too social movements like Hang_em will take off.

What do you think about the connection between the politicians and the voters?  I’d love to know.

QUOTATION FROM: Barack Obama addressing the United Nations Wednesday 23 September 2009

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I am a geek. I watch politics. But the leaders’ debate was boring.

It wasn’t as boring as we expected

It’s a cultural thing.  Brits were surprised their politicians weren’t dead boring.  The debate wasn’t quite as boring as watching Congress pass the Health bill but I did switch over to the The Huff Post to read about Obama at NASA announcing 6bn for commercial space flights.  Now that is exciting!

But it was boring

Truthfully, I am a geek.  I watched Congress pass the Health bill.  Of last night, I can remember except marveling at a newspaper picture of the 3 contenders’ ties.   I wonder what women would wear?

I was also amazed at how nervous the leaders were.  So much for our adversarial system of public life.  It scares the most competitive of us silly.

So morning after.  What can you remember of what the leaders said?

So what happened in Britain yesterday to rival 6bn for commercial space flight and the introduction of SDR’s by IMF.  Three pale male and stale in brightly coloured ties said  . . . .?

Oh, and an Icelandic volcano shut down our air space.

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Would I ever vote for the right?

Why the right make me shudder

I have some right wing friends. Really I do.  But I generally don’t like their friends.  Right wing people tend to have potty mouths.  Even when they have developed smooths and smarts, their general dislike of people shines through.

It’s funny. They claim to be worldly.  The truth is that they have a overweening need to feel superior.  They like races because someone loses.

Is competition so bad?

The trouble is that the right are such sore losers themselves.

I accept their equally scathing view of the left.  They think we are too idle to be competitive.  It’s true that we sometimes won’t have races in case someone loses.  It is not a slander.  We do believe that we can’t have losers when we our people can’t stand losing.

If we are to have races, then we must love losers.  We have to be grateful to them.  If we have a basic need to dislike people, then we have trouble with this basic requirement of sportsmanship.

We can’t have competitive systems for people who are bad losers

Uh-uh.  Giving races to people who don’t like people is like putting a free bar in front of someone with a track record of drink driving. It’s daft.  Remove the temptation.  Serve a good soft drink first.  Serve food.  At least charge cash for the second drink.

Am I being nanny-ish?

I don’t think so. I am being worldly.

I was once told by someone living in France that you cannot serve alcohol there without a meal within a defined distance of a motorway.  Of course, the customer might not eat the food. But they have to pay for it.  And so they might as well eat it.  It’s French food after all.

I like the Australian habit of tracking down the person who sold alcohol to the drunk driver.  Yes.  Take responsibility for your actions.

We can’t give races to people who are addicted to racing yet don’t know how to lose.  We can’t vote for the right because far too many people on that side just don’t like people. 

We can’t vote for the right because they don’t take responsibility for the effect of their races on the losers.

When might I vote for the right?

We’ll vote for you when your policies tell us what you will do rather than what you will do to us.  I want to hear how your policies limit you not me.

Of course, you say that about the left too.  It is true that the authoritarian left likes being in charge.  We must be careful only to put in charge those people who bring a substantive vision and administrative competence

But will I vote for someone with substantive vision, administrative competence and an need for 95% of the population to lose so they can win.  No.  How can I?

I need a substantive vision, administrative competence and a set of races where losers and winners are different every day and are all part of the after race party.

I need all three attributes in a politician but the first two can never outweigh the third.  Whoever designs the race must take responsibility for the effect on the losers.

Right now in Britain though we are going to go broke if we don’t find fair leaders who have vision and administrative competence.  And so we must ask the question.

How are we holding the conversation to produce such an purposeless election?  How can we be contemplating a government who doesn’t even feel responsible for all the people of Britain and the effect of its decisions on people who had no control on the design of the race?

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