When you Fail to Plan, you Plan to Fail. What does your messy desk say about you?

The big ugly elephant called ‘Poor Performance’ keeps haunting our government agencies. It affects our overall service delivery and reflects very poorly on our leadership.

People make all sorts of excuses in the world to defend their poor performance and incompetency and on most occasions get away with it due to lack of proper monitoring, supervision and discipline higher up the organisational ladder. A lot hinge on organisation and planning. So, the popular adage goes, ‘when you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.

Poor Performance


True story here. A certain former Minister waited on end until he got so annoyed that he was left with only one option, go visit the Director in his office. He knocked (actually banged!) on the door and the Director calls out “Yes, come in”. The Minister storms into the Director’s office and he could hardly see the Director’s tabletop which is inundated with papers, folders, files and all. The desktop hasn’t seen the sunlight for ages. The angry Minister shouted, ‘Director, where’s the information I asked you for last week and again a few days ago’? The Director replies, ‘Minister, I’m still working on it. You’ve asked me one other thing which I’m also dealing with…I only have two hands. The Minister responded angrily with a phrase you wouldn’t want to read in print, then demanded that the document be ready ‘by this afternoon’. The Director gave the Minister the usual assurance when operating under pressure and fear.
The Minister slammed the door and walked away. How about that messy desktop?


That Messy Desk: are you a Genius?


Two conclusions can be drawn here. Either your messy desk gives the impression that you are a superhuman (i.e. a genius) in high demand by society or you are just plainly and hopelessly disorganised.
Some say a messy desk is a sign of Genius, and refer to geniuses such as ‘Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs who all had messy desks, just like most other geniuses.’
Researchers have undertaken studies to test ‘how well students came up with new ideas when working in orderly versus disorderly work areas.’ The results showed that “participants in the messy room generated the same number of ideas for new uses as their clean-room counterparts. But their ideas were rated as more interesting and creative when evaluated by impartial judges.” Writer Geoffrey James points out that ‘historically, geniuses were always pictured with a cluttered desk’.
Problem is, the majority of us are not geniuses. Had this been so, the rest of the world would have already known by now. This therefore begs the question, what does your cluttered desk say about you?
As one writer Nagesh Belludi notes, ‘a messy desk isn’t a professional flaw, but clutter may reflect of your competence. Untidiness can give an impression that your job may be too much for you to handle, or that you can’t get your thoughts and information organized’, which then calls into question the whole issue of Time Management – or time planning. Many of us (organisational leaders) do not plan our time effectively between routine stuff we should delegate and core policy issues to keep focused on.
One such core policy area relates to ICT and the digitalisation of our development efforts. The prolonged absences and non-commitment of very senior level members of the National ICT Development Committee (NIDC) from very important high-level meetings is remarkably telling.


Our Non-attendance and Non-commitment


The NIDC sits only quarterly per year. Meeting dates are announced well in advance. As such, there is really no excuse for people’s ongoing nonattendance. The OGCIO was stationed under the PMO since inception purposely to give it that high profile visibility, weight, status and sense of seriousness to ensure Heads of agencies commit to the very vital role of ICT for development, particularly now during lockdown post-Covid. By our noncommitment we make this strategic position an absolute mockery not only on the OGCIO but on the Head of Government who actually Chairs NIDC.
At the 2nd NIDC last week, only one DG (out of 13) and one Director (out of around 42) attended the meeting. This has been a longstanding issue. Since 2018 some key policy issues have simply NOT progressed because of the prolonged absences from meetings and non-commitment by the majority of our agency Heads. This also happens at National Trade Development Committee (NTDC) meetings.
Why aren’t we committing ourselves to these important national policy development forums? Why aren’t we using those calendars (be they the hard cover diaries we usually waste money on from stationery shops or the electronic versions) to strategically plan our days, weeks and months? When we do not come together to drive those policy decisions, how do the OGCIO and the Government as a whole move forward? How do our managers and officers advance key development efforts when we fail to execute the bigger decisions on behalf of the Ministries, Departments and agencies we each lead?


This week’s cruel and panic experience


A certain Director and I had to jointly intervene and deal with a very difficult non-performance issue of a certain Manager on Wednesday this week. The morning was fraught with chaos and panic. I had no other choices left but to pray that God would intervene to delay a repatriation flight from departing Brisbane until this issue was resolved to board a very major client and his family on the flight. He was literally helpless. I walked into the Director’s office in utter desperation and literally begged for his intervention to short-cut some processes. For six (6) long weeks a certain Manager had simply sat on some very important paper work that needed to be cleared. The Director sympathised and cleared the matter. A phone call to Foreign Affairs and to Brisbane cleared the passenger and his entire family finally boarded the flight. We get paid a fortnightly salary to “deliver” to clients, and yet these are the kinds of experiences we still continue live with over and over again.

 

Source : Daily Post