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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Yes, Minister

Recently I got Mausi the complete "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" series, telling her that it explained the British Civil Service with Documentary accuracy. She has been watching it at home, treating herself to an episode per day and now tells me that it is not just the UK Civil Service but the German one as well.

Today she got an invitation from another Institute in her homeland inviting her to a seminar on "leadership in management" at which the principle speaker will be the very successful head of the BMW Corporation. Having studied the programme carefully she has decided it would be nice, but probably a waste of time. The problem is that she works in an organisation managed by Civil Servants...... The trouble is that she now daily sees the Sir Humphrey ethos at work in every department in which civil servants are located as "administrators" or "managers". To the frustration of the scientists who work there every request, every idea is met with obstruction and circular arguments to prevent anything happening which does not create more civil servants. It has to be a genetic defect in the human genome that produces these people.

Sir Humphrey's German equivalent is just as determined to prevent any change as their UK counterparts. Leadership is not something to be encouraged. Leaders may find themselves having to allow change or worse, to make decisions for which they could be held responsible and that clashes directly with the ethos of every civil servant.

Mausi assures me that she can now prove that Yes Minister is not fiction, it is a documentary and she now proposes to take it to the seminar and show it there so that she can explain why everyone is wasting their time devloping their leadership. In fact she suggests it should be compulsory viewing to anyone joining any organisation run by civil servants so that, from the start, they don't have any illusions about the aims and purposes of the Civil Service.

We have to find that civil servant gene and eradicate it or we are doomed!

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