At the Effectiveness lab, we have been debating the point at which CEO’s or Governors decide to induce comatose at organisations. Inducing comatose results in a deep state of unconsciousness as a result of administering the barbiturate drug – in effect, it is a partial shut down of certain organisation functions, while stabilising vital systems.
We induce both short and long term comatose at organisations all the time. Comatose may be induced at the ‘department’ or ‘organisation’ level. It is part of the game in organisational leadership and Organisational Development (OD.) Gurus prescribe induced comatose all the time. However, last week, the world witnessed induced-comatose on a scale never heard of for an elite, highly respected nation-state.
BREXIT – a term used to mean the departure of the UK from the EU. It’s true that with a majority of just over 50%, the Brexiteers won the referendum on EU membership and the UK will be leaving the EU, in just under two years from now. Article 50 of the EU treaty will be invoked by the UK.
Growing up in Uganda, we knew that the ‘master’, Colonial-Britain, could not put a foot wrong. ‘Made in the UK’ was the guarantee of quintessence. Quintessence both in the canniness to know what is best for the likes of Uganda, but also to produce the very best of products. Many of us still adore and wear the orthodox British wardrobe and handmade English shoes from Nottingham. That is how respecting and adoring we are to the ‘master’ – hee, the ‘master’ did a wonderful job at making us believe.
On June 23rd, 2016, our ‘master’ was stripped, naked. The ’servants’ woke up to witness the ‘master’s’ front yard in disorder. The master was no longer canny and appeared disoriented plus confused. If it were a patient, the clinical signs were so bad that comatose had to be induced to save the patient.
Brexit has not only left the UK divided but also a clueless and leaderless nation. How can this be true of the great UK?
The Pound was not doing well at all, UK Banks lost billions in share value, and big business threatened to move Hqs. from their London hubs. With Scotland and London threatening secession, ‘SEXIT’ and ‘LEXIT‘ were no longer a far-fetched reality.
The ‘master’ has to leave the EU after all and has looked more the ‘servant’ than the master in the week past.
The nation-state United Kingdom – in Induced Comatose:
When things get this bad, it is not bad to induce organisational-comatose – bring order back to the organisation – and then switch back on the full functions of the organisation. The UK has had to do exactly the latter.
In the immediate aftermath of the Brexit victory, amidst the confusion that ensued, EU peers called upon the UK immediately to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty and formally trigger exit negotiations.
The push to immediately negotiate exit by the UK’s EU peers assumed (read: embarrass cocky Britain) that in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum and win, the nation state in the UK was functioning normally.
No, there was no ‘sober’ organisation in the UK nation-state. Both camps, Brexit and those that voted to stay, were caught unawares by the result. The Brexiteers did not expect a win and had the night before apparently written their speech to acknowledge defeat. The ‘Stayers’ had counted on a win and were caught unawares by the loss.
The result was nation-state paralysis, with the incumbent Prime Minister announcing his resignation and the Brexit poster boys not having a clue what to do next with the win – instead, they asked the incumbent Prime Minister to stay on
A moment of brilliance by David Cameron may be the road back to sanity for the UK; i.e. put the nation in Induced comatose by not heeding the call by the EU to invoke Article 50 – a quick exit process by Britain from the EU. The UK is buying time, aware that there is so much noise in the system, for any sensible discourse to take place
The nation-state UK is in induced-comatose, and as well it is
Avoiding the pitfalls that force organisations to induce-comatose:
- When leaders fail to control certain individuals in their teams, organisations, however mighty, are quickly brought to their knees. David Cameroon should learn man-management from the top football managers. Examples: Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, etc
- Avoid deep-seated ideological division inside organisations. At times, it is good to let go of dissenters for the sake of unity. In hindsight, David Cameroon must be wondering why he appointed the likes of Micheal Gove and Boris Johnson to cabinet – well knowing their views on Europe
- As a leader, never be seen to undermine the principle of collective responsibility. The latter undermines your authority as leader. In allowing his MP’s and cabinet a free vote on Brexit, David Cameron destroyed the very ‘glue’ that holds the ‘divided’ together – i.e. ’collective responsibility’. There can’t be shortcuts to firm leadership, as well as suffering the consequences if you have to, of such choice
- Do not take issues for which you don’t have consensus on at a much smaller forum like the UK cabinet in this case, to the wider public. The public court judged, and we know who the loser was; it is not for us to write David Cameron’s biography but we are sure he will be harshly judged on his decision to refer a matter voluntarily to the public courts that he didn’t have to. Was he an escapist leader that wanted to avoid the consequences of a pretty tough leadership call?
- As a leader, never disregard or condemn to poverty and suffering a group of employees or citizens in the case of the UK, and then allow them a vote that determines your fate. Severe austerity has hit the poor hard in the UK – and it is the poor that delivered Brexit not because they knew what they were doing but were exploited by the Brexit poster boys. Learn to pay micro-attention to organisational climate.
While many factors can force organisations to induce comatose, it is apparent from the UK Brexit case that firm ‘leadership’ and treating ‘people’, employees or citizens as ‘people and not objects’, is key to avoiding dysfunction at the organisation.
The usually canny ‘Master’ was caught napping on this one, and OD. Gurus and politicians can learn so much from this case
A very quick recovery ‘Master’!