Long live the King! But what are the four words that come before those ones?
The King is dead. Long live the King!
In the olden days, or in England which is the same thing, when a monarch died those words mean that one person who was the King has died, but there is a new one now and long live him!
There is a distinction between the mortal human that gives way to the next mortal human, but there’s always a King which never dies. A bit like James Bond. Different actor, same dry martini.
Or a bit like managers in command and control land. Bear with, bear with, I’m going somewhere with this I promise.
Managers, especially top managers, move around a lot. Deming noticed this, it is one of the 7 deadly diseases, them being endlessly mobile. Always moving on, never settling. I think this is a key requirement of a command and control structure. Managers have to come and go, for failure of the whole model to be pinned on whoever was last in charge, rather than the model itself being flawed.
So a manager is appointed, people wait for them to arrive, asking questions “what are they like, where do they come from?“, they arrive, “ooh, he’s good. a lot more decisive/less of a snap judgement/more clever/less head in the air/more strategic/less vague/more of a leader/less of a manager than that last one, ooh yes“.
Whatever it is, they are always better than the last one. Like Bruce Forsyths audience, so much better than last weeks. Until they leave, or a few months before they leave, then they’re exactly as bad as the last one to leave, i.e. awful. Then they leave, replaced by someone else completely different, for the cycle to start again with the same results, just a different way of getting there.
Stand back and watch it. Watch the signal of the bigger arc, not the noise of what they do when they are here, what they prefer as their sandwich filling. Don’t get dragged into that rubbish. Watch them come and watch them go. That is the signal.
They have to come and go. They have to because none of it works. They only come because people believe in the “great leader”, that leaders know what to do. They have the experience, the wisdom and the strategic vision, the personal qualities that the last joker didn’t. This is of course, bollocks. Technically speaking.
They do things, change things, but although all improvements are changes, improvements are only a sub-set of all changes. Most change isn’t improvement. But you only find that out over time, and given that failure is invested in the individual as a failing, they’re just like the last joker! God, what a let-down. Off he goes. Next!
God, isn’t this one good? He’s from the private sector don’t you know. He’s different from the last one. The King is dead. Long live the King!