The way we work : Food for thought.

Albert FRANK


Let us first recall Peter's principle: "In any organised group of human beings, one keeps on being promoted until one's level of incompetence has been reached."
Sad last step of a process which we've become accustomed to witness.
What is worse is that on a daily basis, the meaning of the word "competent" has evolved from "the one that can do" to "the one that deals with"! Ideally, it would be perfect: the one who, thanks to his knowledge, is able to solve a problem, is asked to deal with it. Practically, it is assumed to be so! The one who deals with a problem is presumed to be able to solve it. No distinction is made anymore between ability and title. This has led us to the abominable use of the term "Competent Authority"…Take, among so many examples, the pedagogical competencies of those "Competent Authorities" who rule Educational Boards!


In his remarkable book "Submission to Authority" (a part of which was taken up in the movie "I, as Icare"), Stanley MILGRAM shows how far blind submission to authority may lead. Observations made by Stanley Milgram's team outnumbered most pessimistic forecasts. Phrases like "The boss said so", "The State Secretary said so", justify almost anything, often absolutely everything (ask Hitler or better ask his lieutenants!).
And where has this led us to? When working in a firm or in an office for example, in order to take most of the steps that have to be taken, any planned action or decision has first to be submitted to the one immediately above, who in his turn will refer it to the one immediately above … until, finally, it reaches the "Competent Authority" !


Whatever we think about their power, European State Ministers do have a lot of it. (What about elsewhere's?).When they meet, State Ministers take decisions that affect our daily life. Simply because they are almost at the top of the ladder.
An improvement might be reached if to be entitled to become a State Minister, people had to have at least, let's say, a 120 IQ, as well as a certain amount of "knowledge" in the field they are to minister. It may make no difference in the worst case, but why not try? [Ideally these people should also take a test in honesty, but such a test does not seem to be feasible.]
This proposal does not imply that everyone should walk around with a sign on his head stating his IQ. One would simply know that those who are State Ministers have a relatively high IQ and some knowledge in the field they are dealing with.


Point out any stupidity, whichever. What will you be answered? "-That's the way we've always done!" And anything will find itself justified! Even better, you will be told: "-That's the way we've always done, ask the boss"
How to get out of it ??? And this is a mirthless remark.


What about imposing a duty to think ? A duty not to obey stupidly, because "the order comes from the boss", because "that's the way it's always been done", because "I don't want to take any responsibility", because "if I don't, someone else will do it anyway"… but the step to take is so big, the way to go is so long...