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I’m getting to my tolerance limit; the likes of Nick Keunssberg, Martha Webb, Mishal Robinson and the blur of petulant, rude, impatient inquisitors on the Beeb’s Today Programme? 

We know… locking down GB-Plc was easy.  Pass a law, shout stop, job done.

Unlocking, because of life’s interconnectedness, is horribly complex.  Picking a Dimple-Bump padlock… easy by comparison.

Reading the welter of guidance, from HMG’s print-factory, is a full time job and yes, there are anomalies, funnies, confusions and contradictions.

Don’t ask me why you can employ your lover as a cleaner and have a conjugal visit with a feather duster but have to stay two meters apart in the park.

You can shoot holes through the whole pile of guidance.  I’m fed up with the know-all-Nicks and the head-mistress-Marthas of this world.  

We know the tedious questions, from Michal Webb, only prove; if you get up at 4am, go to an editorial meeting, where bright young things have been up all night burrowing into the minutia of guidance, by 6am you can sound very smart, reading out mind-bending questions and tricky follow-ups, to trip-up ministers.

Not that I’m against tripping-up ministers!  But, right now we need to move into a new period of constructivism, common-sense and collectiveness.

We need to figure out how we do stuff, not how we get around doing stuff.

I am not dismissing for a moment, not for a single moment, the human tragedies CV-19 has concocted for us, but unless we can find safe ways to get the economy trickling back to some sort of normality, austerity beckons, tax-hikes and unemployment on a scale few of us will have witnessed.

I am not saying HMG has managed the CV-19 disaster in an exemplary way.  There have been delays, wilful ignorance and dumbness on an industrial scale…

… but show me a country that has avoided all the pitfalls, that hasn’t had a disasters in parts of their care systems.  Everyone has been sideswiped.

What I will say is; as we try and slide from the grip of CV-19, HMG has fallen into two, basic, management holes.

The first, the difference between standards and rules.

The rules are simple, you can’t visit yer granny, but she can put her house up for sale.

Standards, if you want to drop them, means; put yer Granny’s house on the market, then take husband and the kids around, to give the place a once over and granny a hug at the same time.

Standards are what we want to be measured by, the benchmarks of decency, our norms.  If we don’t keep our standards up, up will go the R0 number and down will come the restrictions.

No one is saying…

‘This is complex and we know clever individuals will find ways to wriggle around the rules.  All that does is, risk setting us all back.  If we want to wriggle out of CV-19’s grip, we have to accept common-standards and common-sense….’

… and someone should.

The second error; trying to manage minutia.

Managing minutia means, probably, half of your time will be spent sorting out stuff that is unrelated to the goal.  In this case, fixing the economy.

Answering daft questions from Justin Hussein;

‘WHO says three feet apart, the US says six feet, we say two meters apart… blah, blah’.  

Does it matter?  Six feet apart or six feet under, your call Justin.

Managing minutia easily morphs into meddling management.  The way to avoid it is to ask ‘what must I do‘ and ‘what can I do‘.

HMG ‘must’ change the laws and guidance.  Then individual industries, airlines, engineering, shops, know what they ‘can‘ do, get on and organise it.  

Tescos cracked social-distance-retailing long before BoJo got out of bed.

Government, like senior management, should limit their involvement to the essential.  What they and only they must do.  As for the rest, leave it to the front-line, CBI, the Unions, trades organisations, local communities and the good sense of the people doing the job.

Do that and government, boards and the senior team will have the time and energy to get back to the business of governing and leading not controlling and administering.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.