Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Trust the troops on point duty

We hear that Donald Trump does not believe the CIA and FBI analysis of Russian interference in the recent presidential elections. That has echoes of the experience many of us had with the erstwhile Chief Executive of Natural England.

In 2006, we rapidly got to realise that our CEO did not trust us. We frequently heard about meetings between the CEO and 'partner' organisations from our counterparts in said organisation. We had no firm clue about what was said and agreed (you cannot always trust your counterparts if they spot a weakness in your intelligence systems). Our CEO announced that we would be' told what we needed to know'! We had no firm idea about what our policy should be - try writing a policy paper with the instruction 'I'll know what I want when I see it'! Worse still, we had no clue about the information that would actually be valued by the CEO. Needless to say, this relationship was accompanied by an exodus of technical skills that have been lost for ever. It does not take a lot to kill off the relationship between management and the troops on point duty. Why stick your neck out if the Chief is as likely to chop it off than the opposition might seek to do!

If I was a member of the CIA or FBI I would be very worried. If the Chief does not trust you, and won't take briefings other than on an intermittent basis, you are in serious trouble. I always took the view that one should at least listen to the troops on point duty - they have the most relevant experience and are the eyes and ears of the organisation. If you don't trust them, then you are exposing the whole army (country/organisation) to acting blind.

God help the western World!

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