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Friday, 13 November 2009

Shadow over substance ...

For years I have been quoting the Duke of Wellington's reply when somebody asked him to what he owed his victories.

He replied, "Attention to detail".

Every day I see things and say to myself, "All grand gestures - no attention to detail. Nobody has thought exactly how this will be done."

This occurred to me in Lloyds bank yesterday. I waited for about 8 minutes to see someone, during which I spotted a little notice saying they aim to serve people within 4 minutes. They rarely do, because nobody has worked out how this magic target will be reached. In fact I just bet there were meetings where people said, "Should we make it 3 minutes? Or maybe 5? What do you think, Henry?"

Amusingly, the lady I saw told me people love their advertising. They probably love the smart new branch, too. But you know what I want in a bank? I don't want smart branches or pretty ads. I want to get in, do my business, and get out. Fast. It's not a bloody cocktail bar, for Gods' sake.

In the notice I saw it said that to reach this plucked-out-of-thin-air 4 minute target staff were going to work different hours, or stagger their lunch breaks to make it happen. My heart goes out to them, poorly paid victims of promises made by "strategists" who have no idea how they will be kept and think clever ads and fancy premises matter more than service.

The plain fact is there just weren't enough of them in the branch. It's the same in every bank I deal with. Fire a few head office drones - starting with all the people who screwed everything up in the first place and hire more bodies on the ground is my advice.**

Incidentally, can anyone tell me why Eric Daniels who so comprehensively destroyed Lloyds, has not only not been fired, but paid £3.8 million to stay on? That was my money - via the government. Why should you and I pay the twat? Is there any other world where failure is rewarded with more money? How many useful staff would that money pay for?

The first bank to adopt the Ryanair approach - give people the essentials and nothing else efficiently and cheaply - will clean up.

You can see this everywhere you look.

The Brooding Toad and Cameron McPhoney say they will do this and do that - as the Bliar did before them - but don't say how. No attention to detail and no sense of priorities because they have spent most of their lives in promise land, where magic wands do the trick.

** Years ago the chairman of a big advertising agency where I was one of the creative directors asked me how I would make it more profitable. I said "Fire every third person. It'll make no difference to the results and concentrate the minds of the ones left."

In public services, I would apply that remedy plus another. Get rid of all the people measuring things, filling in forms, engaged in politically correct crap and keep the ones doing things.


Just as I was about to put this up I saw a piece in the paper about immigration. Gordon Brown said he really "gets it" and "I am going to make statement." You really get it??? What parallel universe are you in? Do you never read the papers? People have been hopping mad about this for years. Ever heard of the BNP? Their entire policy is based on your failure to "get it". Making a statement doesn't mean it happens, you buffoon. You have to DO something.

The Toad and Cameron live in that dream world where photo-opportunities, initiatives and policies are confused with action.

Unfortunately, on the rare occasions when something is done it is almost invariably wrong. For instance in the twelve years since the Blessed Saviour Tone came in there have been more laws and regulations introduced than in the entire 20th century - mostly ill-drafted or unnecessary or replacing perfectly adequate ones that were already there. Net result? Chaos. Confusion worse confounded.

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