“My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” – Proverbs 3:21-24
Over the last week, there were two events which, in contrasting ways, depleted reserves of emotional energy. On the one hand, we said farewell to Andria Hall Sizemore who was an integral part of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEX) activities and, on the other, the world heralded the advent of Barack Obama as President of the USA. Andria was an inspiration to the hundreds of people with whom she came into contact at CMEx over the last seven years and I daresay to the tens of thousands of people who were blessed through her books, radio ministries and personal contacts in the other activities which consumed her relatively short stay with us on earth. As Bevan Springer reported in the New York Amsterdam News last Friday – “Andria Lynette Hall was the anatomy of a miracle. I can’t think of anyone who has blessed so many lives with gentle words of encouragement and counsel, whether in a five minute intervention or a five year-old friendship. Let’s now look at ways of building on the work that this gentle force has done for the far greater good. Practically everything she did, she shared with others. Her friends were always invited to share the bounty of her labour, her inspiration and her love. Now it is time to share Andria and her life’s work with others. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well done!” Secondly, President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their two daughters were welcomed by millions around the world. I prepared myself for the possibility of this event by reading his two books which were truly an inspiration to me. The books revealed a comprehensive preparation which has produced a being whose intellect, charisma and guile combine in harmonious fervour to present a leader who is worthy of the title “the most powerful man in the world”. His first appeal to the American people and, by extension, to the people of the world, was to serve their fellowman by helping others less fortunate than themselves. The collective impact of such a volunteer force could be regarded as a beneficial tsunami which will redound to the benefit of the family, the community, the nation, the region and the world. A quick glance at Michelle Obama’s biography reveals that she majored in sociology at Princeton University, graduating with cum laude honors in 1985. From there she attended Harvard where she earned her law degree in 1988, one year ahead of her then husband-to-be. According to reports, Michelle has mastered being a mother, career woman and the wife of a politician. Her level of discipline and organisation helps her manage her public and private pressures with poise. When one hears Michelle speak, her intellect is not in question and her style is complementary to her husband’s position. One can surely conjure up visions of grandeur which, if her husband makes it two terms in the White House, allow her to transition from a mother, career woman and the wife of a politician to mother, politician and President, thus continuing the Obama legacy. After all, the Republicans thought that Governor Sarah Palin was worthy of occupying a position which would have put her just a heart beat away from the Presidency. President Obama in his inaugural address stressed “we need more responsibility and accountability, certainly, in the way our government acts.” One of the fascinating features, from a management perspective and in the wake of the Obama inauguration, is the introduction of the Obameter by PolitiFact http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/. PolitiFact has compiled about 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on their Obameter. Their status is rated as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, their status is rated Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken. This is indeed the “Monitoring and Controlling” function of management and is indeed very good management practice. One monitors actual performance against the objectives targets or promises and if we fail in any way then we take immediate corrective action and bring the performance back on track. We use the blood test to monitor the effect of medical treatment on the control of lipids levels. If the profile differs from expectation, we alter the treatment. We use the glucometer to monitor the effect of medical treatment on the control of blood sugar levels. If the profile differs from expectation, we alter the treatment. In Barbados, how often does the Public Accounts Committee meet? What is done about the recommendations in the Auditor General’s annual reports? It is too late now to introduce the Arthurmeter but maybe we should encourage “PolitiFact (Barbados)” to introduce the Thompymeter so as to have an objective assessment of the effect of government policy and action in the context of the promises made. If the profile differs from expectation, we alter the treatment. When surgery is necessary we have to be brave enough to undergo it to reduce the chances of the early advent of the undertaker.