Public accountability.

In the early 90s I was a senior manager in local government in England.

We had a reputation for innovation in trying to respond to community needs. I sometimes sailed ‘close to the wind and on one of these occasions I was disciplined for breaking the rules.

Towards the end of the financial year I realised there was money underspent in one of our budgets that would be lost.

Rather than lose the money as it couldn’t be carried over the year end, I identified computer equipment we could buy for a new project we were setting up to promote access to computers and training for disabled people.

I quickly contacted three companies that could supply the equipment to get verbal quotes . Chose the best price and company got a formal written quote and agreed, we could go ahead.

In my rush, the mistake I made was not to get formal written quotes from all the companies.

I was investigated and at ‘the hearing’ I was put on ‘final warning.’I completely accepted I’d broken the rules and should have been punished. As public servants, responsible for significant budgets, providing quality services and the health and safety of our service users and teams we are and should be fully accountable.

Why do I share this with you now?

I can see political personal and institutional corruption at the highest level in the U.K. and I wonder how the guilty will be held accountable.

Just look at this.

Customer service

I’m fresh back from delivering a workshop on engaging employees as a responsible business here in London.

We hung out with swans

We covered the usual stuff including issues related to quality, services, customer satisfaction and empowering employees to innovate.

I find a message waiting for me.

It’s from the cycle shop in Mysore. I’d left my main cycle to be fixed.

They’ve written to tell me that they’ve installed the wrong part which affects/reduces the performance of the cycle gears by one third.

Why have they written to tell me instead of just fixing it?

In my view… free consultancy…. it’s pretty clear what the options are….

1….Do it again, this time with the correct part.

2….Replace with the original part and give back to me as it was.

This sort of thing is common in India but I can’t say that I can really understand it. How is it that the supplier didn’t supply the correct part? Did the cycle shop order the wrong part and did they not check before they installed it? Why haven’t they just solved the problem? Do they expect me to take it back like this?

It reminds me of the case of the Chinese Oil….

I’d ordered Tung or China Oil to treat our new Rosewood chairs and sofa. The seller was in Delhi who would arrange delivery. It didn’t arrive.

Me: where’s my oil?

Seller: it’s with the transporter sir.

Me: where’s my oil?

Transporter: we can deliver the container sir but there’s no oil in it, it’s leaked.

I’ll not bore you with the whole story. Suffice to say. ‘The it’s not my fault guv’ wasn’t accepted. The seller and transporter sorted out responsibility between themselves. It was eventually delivered.

I’ve placed trust in people and they are accountable to deliver what they’ve promised. Any problems, well it’s up to them to sort it out, if necessary to apportion responsibility. Hopefully we all learn from our mistakes and improve for the future and the business continues to thrive and survive. From it I also know who to trust, maybe.

What’s so difficult about that?

For some reason my Indian friends just accept this poor service and don’t challenge. In that case how will anything ever change?

Despicable

Who makes monsters?

We do, partly, through acceptance, encouragement and reinforcement

It’s also actually how we make nice people.

It’s the process of

Clarifying and confirming what is and isn’t acceptable that helps creates and forms patterns of behaviour that is our culture(S). Evidence of this might be reflected in the whole organisation or society, community or just one of its sub sets.

So what’s brought this on?

Men in India who rape and/or murder because they can.

It’s an expression of power over others, reflects a degraded system, where there are few societal or personal restraints with limited accountability and recourse.

I wouldn’t want to colour a whole nation and it’s culture from individual incidents. After all I love this place and it’s people because it’s so open, friendly, easy-going, accepting contradiction, paradox and incredible diversity BUT there are limits.

This must however be seen, and highlighted as completely unacceptable. If we don’t, we’re also monsters.

We should hang our heads in shame.

Those in power whether politicians, police, whoever they, have a heavy responsibility to ensure their words, actions, inactions do not encourage or condone or create the monsters in our midst. Unfortunately the increase in these actions is also a consequence of political movements.

Here’s a link to the story