Reputaton management

e-bay: a peer-to-peer reputation management system

e-bay: a peer-to-peer reputation management system

Conall McDevitt has an interesting post up about CEO reputations:

“Communicating frequently with their employees. Certainly with their customers too, but not to forget their employees. At a time of uncertainty employees are hungry for information. CEOs need to take responsibility. Apologize if they are wrong. If they don’t know the answer, say they don’t know. We are just starting to see CEOs really being the face of the company.”

The CEOs of the Big 3 Auto Companies get a mention: Continue reading

“…a symbol of how we see ourselves”

This is a really good post about a perceived restructuring of the UK cabinet to reflect three key themes. I won’t spoil the wider article for you except to say that one of the issues that (according to the author) is a priority is that of constitutional and democratic reform.
This is very perceptive:
“….the task is partly about representation, equity and justice, and partly about public perception of politics.
For politicians to take the bold steps that are demanded by a fast-evolving society, they must have legitimacy. The public delegate their authority to representatives in a temporary compact which notionally reads like this: act in our interests and we’ll trust you to hold power for a while. But an underlying, perhaps more fundamental, message is: be a symbol of how we see ourselves, and we will ask you to make us better people.
This is the nature of the insult that many people feel they’ve received from MPs recently: they have betrayed us by acting like normal people instead of the idealised figures we wish they – and we – could be. And so the moral authority to help the rest of us be better than ourselves has been diminished. I don’t personally think this attitude is particularly fair to MPs, but perception is more than reality in this area.
So the constitutional council has a mission to restore faith in the character of politicians. And one way it can do this – although perhaps too radical for a first step – is through self-sacrifice. If a Labour government were to create a political system not structured around its own political objectives but those of democracy and of a fair representation of our diverse population, it would win huge credibility from the many people who are disillusioned with politics and with the government, but who are not impressed by the alternatives on offer.”
The public wanted hanging restored. But did they want to be represented by hangers (click image for attribution).

The public wanted hanging restored. But did they want to be represented by hangers? (click image for attribution).

This is a really good post about a perceived restructuring of the UK cabinet to reflect three key themes. I won’t spoil the wider article for you except to say that one of the issues that (according to the author) is a priority is that of constitutional and democratic reform.

This is very perceptive:

“….the task is partly about representation, equity and justice, and partly about public perception of politics.

For politicians to take the bold steps that are demanded by a fast-evolving society, they must have legitimacy. The public delegate their authority to representatives in a temporary compact which notionally reads like this: act in our interests and we’ll trust you to hold power for a while. But an underlying, perhaps more fundamental, message is: be a symbol of how we see ourselves, and we will ask you to make us better people.

This is the nature of the insult that many people feel they’ve received from MPs recently: they have betrayed us by acting like normal people instead of the idealised figures we wish they – and we – could be. And so the moral authority to help the rest of us be better than ourselves has been diminished. I don’t personally think this attitude is particularly fair to MPs, but perception is more than reality in this area.

So the constitutional council has a mission to restore faith in the character of politicians. And one way it can do this – although perhaps too radical for a first step – is through self-sacrifice. If a Labour government were to create a political system not structured around its own political objectives but those of democracy and of a fair representation of our diverse population, it would win huge credibility from the many people who are disillusioned with politics and with the government, but who are not impressed by the alternatives on offer.”

It adds another bit of shorthand to the list of ‘what kind of representation do we want’? We want people to represent us who have the values that we aspire to.

There is one illustration that I’ve never been able to stand up, but I’d still use it. Until very recently, opinion polls showed a clear majority of the population in favour of hanging – yet Parliament has consistantly rejected capital punishment and even sympathetic politicians with a feel for the popular never pressed the case. Mrs Thatcher was a ‘hanger’, after all.

Perhaps she knew that people may be hangers themselves, but don’t want to be represented by other hangers?

(Via Stumbling & Mumbling).

The consequence of a retreat from politics?

Dennis Skinner - thought to be sceptical about consensus politics. (Pic: Riana Dzasta)

Dennis Skinner - thought to be sceptical about consensus politics. (Pic: Riana Dzasta)

It’s an interesting twist to the question I’ve been asking, on and off, over the past few weeks: What kind of representatives do we want?

So far, the options have included jurors, rogues and public paragons of virtue. But over on Spiked Online, Brendan O’Neill suggests a somewhat alarming possibility: Maybe we need people who are locked in a partisan struggle – people who will die in a ditch to defend the interests of a social class or ideological clique. Maybe we need (shock … horror) politicians to represent us?

In short, he suggests that the whole expenses scandal is the product of a regrettable retreat from politics – a move to make Parliament meet the petty demands of it’s rivals, and a refusal to prioritise and accommodate political conflict:

“New Labour has discovered that transparency begets, not trust, but further suspicion – the more politicians make their personal purity into their major selling point, and the more they imply that parliament is a potentially corrupt and sleazy place, the more they invite scrutiny of their every foible and Kit Kat purchase.” Continue reading

Clive James on liberal democracy

Albert Camus

Albert Camus

Here’s a really good broadcast by Clive James on how liberal democracy works the transcript is here (and, while I don’t know how long this will be available under the BBC’s ‘Listen Again’ terms of use, if you subscribe to the podcast, you should be able to get all of the series).

It’s worth listening to all the way through, and particularly to consider Karl Popper’s notion of “changing the government at the peoples’ whim” – he says it like it’s a good thing, and when you think about it, it is less of a bad thing than all of the other options on offer.

James also quotes Albert Camus on Democracy:

“…the form of society devised and maintained by those who know that they don’t know everything.” Continue reading

As long as they’re our scoundrels….

Bertie_Ahern_2005In recent weeks, I’ve been trying to tease out what kind of politicians that we want. So far, I’ve covered the posibility that we want them to behave in much the same way as jurors do, or that we want a paragon of virtue (in an expensive white suit).

With Esther Rantzen and The Jury Team in the headlines as alternatives to the menu of political parties, these are apposite questions.

But I’d suggest that there are other possibilities that deserve teasing out.

Do we, for instance, want politicians to be free-booting business people? The Republic of Ireland is widely seen as having a less proper political culture than we have in the UK. Continue reading

Whiter than white?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

Do we really want politicians to be public paragons of virtue?

A good deal of what I read tends to work on the assumption that we do. Take this, for example:

“As technology evolves, the same public information laws create novel and in some cases previously unimaginable levels of transparency. In many cases, particularly those related to the conduct of top public officials, this seems to be a clearly good thing. In others, particularly those related to people who are not public figures, it may be more of a mixed blessing or even an outright problem. 

I’m reminded of the “candidates” of ancient Rome—the Latin word candidatus literally means “clothed in white robes,” which would-be officeholders wore to symbolize the purity and fitness for office they claimed to possess. By putting themselves up for public office, they invited their fellow citizens to hold them to higher standards.”

I mentioned this on another forum, and my friend, Chris, commented that the whiteness of the robes were also a status symbol. They said “look at me – I live in a nice part of town and I’ve got servants and slaves” Continue reading

Policy v Character

Chris Dillow is probably the best political blogger in the UK.

Here he asks whether we should judge  politicians by their policies or their characters?

More on this here shortly.