Discussion:
Should life imitate art? (Skylark Three or Ashes of Victory?)
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Andrew McDowell
2021-05-29 07:12:29 UTC
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Your plan of getting the best men possible, paying them well, and giving them complete authority and sole responsibility, has worked to perfection. I have never seen an undertaking of such size go forward so smoothly and with such fine co-operation.

(Mr Vaneman to Seaton, explaining why Seaton is free to go swanning about the Galaxy). This form of delegated authority is not uncommon in Science Fiction, where I note that it provides a much more entertaining story than e.g. Weber's more realistic accounts of management by committee. Would it actually work in real life?

The UK response to Coronavirus really has been mixed - we got the vaccine right, but a lot of things wrong. The curious figure of Dominic Cummings was near the heart of this, and he has been giving some forthright testimony to a parliamentary committee. The closest thing to a full transcript that I an find is from a non-politically correct newspaper, but seems to be only lightly editied. Excepts:

So, as soon as you have some kind of major problem you have kind of that Spiderman meme with both Spidermans pointing at each other, it's like that but with everybody. So, you have [Matt] Hancock pointing at the permanent secretary, you have the permanent secretary pointing at Hancock, and they are both pointing at the Cabinet Office, the Cabinet Office is pointing back at them and all the different Spidermans are all pointing at each other saying 'you are responsible' and the problem is that everyone is right and everyone is unhappy.'

...
One of the key things in the vaccine taskforce was we tried to keep things very simple and have how do really good things work, know who the boss is, it is her team. Kate is going to pick the people, Patrick is going to give scientific advice, and if it turns out Kate Bingham is no good [clicks fingers], we'll get rid of her like that and we will put someone else in who is responsible.

That was the whole reason for the approach. She picked the team, she did a good job of picking the team, and everyone knew they were working for her. They were not working for Hancock, they were not working for the Permanent Secretary in DH, they were not working for the Cabinet Secretary. That very very simple principles are the core of the difference between well-run organisations and badly run organisations.

So I think there's obvious lessons to learn. The problem is that in much of Whitehall it kind of suits everybody to be the Spidermans of everyone pointing at each other and saying it was him, no it was him, no it is him, no it is him.

(end excerpts from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9620235/Dominic-Cummings-evidence-Boris-Johnsons-handling-Covid.html)

So should real life attempt to imiate David Weber or E.E.Smith? It would seem that in a Smith situation you have a "single wringable neck" that you can replace if things are not going well, whereas with a Weber committee can you do anything else but mutter about comminications failures and go on as before?
Dimensional Traveler
2021-05-29 16:57:28 UTC
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Post by Andrew McDowell
Your plan of getting the best men possible, paying them well, and giving them complete authority and sole responsibility, has worked to perfection. I have never seen an undertaking of such size go forward so smoothly and with such fine co-operation.
(Mr Vaneman to Seaton, explaining why Seaton is free to go swanning about the Galaxy). This form of delegated authority is not uncommon in Science Fiction, where I note that it provides a much more entertaining story than e.g. Weber's more realistic accounts of management by committee. Would it actually work in real life?
So, as soon as you have some kind of major problem you have kind of that Spiderman meme with both Spidermans pointing at each other, it's like that but with everybody. So, you have [Matt] Hancock pointing at the permanent secretary, you have the permanent secretary pointing at Hancock, and they are both pointing at the Cabinet Office, the Cabinet Office is pointing back at them and all the different Spidermans are all pointing at each other saying 'you are responsible' and the problem is that everyone is right and everyone is unhappy.'
...
One of the key things in the vaccine taskforce was we tried to keep things very simple and have how do really good things work, know who the boss is, it is her team. Kate is going to pick the people, Patrick is going to give scientific advice, and if it turns out Kate Bingham is no good [clicks fingers], we'll get rid of her like that and we will put someone else in who is responsible.
That was the whole reason for the approach. She picked the team, she did a good job of picking the team, and everyone knew they were working for her. They were not working for Hancock, they were not working for the Permanent Secretary in DH, they were not working for the Cabinet Secretary. That very very simple principles are the core of the difference between well-run organisations and badly run organisations.
So I think there's obvious lessons to learn. The problem is that in much of Whitehall it kind of suits everybody to be the Spidermans of everyone pointing at each other and saying it was him, no it was him, no it is him, no it is him.
(end excerpts from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9620235/Dominic-Cummings-evidence-Boris-Johnsons-handling-Covid.html)
So should real life attempt to imiate David Weber or E.E.Smith? It would seem that in a Smith situation you have a "single wringable neck" that you can replace if things are not going well, whereas with a Weber committee can you do anything else but mutter about comminications failures and go on as before?
The "problem" with the single wringable neck approach is it requires
that EVERYONE above that neck agree on what the goal is in all
particulars. That pretty much _never_ happens in real life, which leads
to the committee approach where no one has to take responsibility for
the mistakes they make in the eyes of others.

In short, politics.
--
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Angrily, angrily, angrily, the net's a nut's scream.
J. Clarke
2021-05-29 17:24:59 UTC
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On Sat, 29 May 2021 09:57:28 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Andrew McDowell
Your plan of getting the best men possible, paying them well, and giving them complete authority and sole responsibility, has worked to perfection. I have never seen an undertaking of such size go forward so smoothly and with such fine co-operation.
(Mr Vaneman to Seaton, explaining why Seaton is free to go swanning about the Galaxy). This form of delegated authority is not uncommon in Science Fiction, where I note that it provides a much more entertaining story than e.g. Weber's more realistic accounts of management by committee. Would it actually work in real life?
So, as soon as you have some kind of major problem you have kind of that Spiderman meme with both Spidermans pointing at each other, it's like that but with everybody. So, you have [Matt] Hancock pointing at the permanent secretary, you have the permanent secretary pointing at Hancock, and they are both pointing at the Cabinet Office, the Cabinet Office is pointing back at them and all the different Spidermans are all pointing at each other saying 'you are responsible' and the problem is that everyone is right and everyone is unhappy.'
...
One of the key things in the vaccine taskforce was we tried to keep things very simple and have how do really good things work, know who the boss is, it is her team. Kate is going to pick the people, Patrick is going to give scientific advice, and if it turns out Kate Bingham is no good [clicks fingers], we'll get rid of her like that and we will put someone else in who is responsible.
That was the whole reason for the approach. She picked the team, she did a good job of picking the team, and everyone knew they were working for her. They were not working for Hancock, they were not working for the Permanent Secretary in DH, they were not working for the Cabinet Secretary. That very very simple principles are the core of the difference between well-run organisations and badly run organisations.
So I think there's obvious lessons to learn. The problem is that in much of Whitehall it kind of suits everybody to be the Spidermans of everyone pointing at each other and saying it was him, no it was him, no it is him, no it is him.
(end excerpts from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9620235/Dominic-Cummings-evidence-Boris-Johnsons-handling-Covid.html)
So should real life attempt to imiate David Weber or E.E.Smith? It would seem that in a Smith situation you have a "single wringable neck" that you can replace if things are not going well, whereas with a Weber committee can you do anything else but mutter about comminications failures and go on as before?
The "problem" with the single wringable neck approach is it requires
that EVERYONE above that neck agree on what the goal is in all
particulars.
Well, since there's only one person above that neck agreement is not
an issue. That's the whole point.
Post by Dimensional Traveler
That pretty much _never_ happens in real life, which leads
to the committee approach where no one has to take responsibility for
the mistakes they make in the eyes of others.
In short, politics.
Robert Carnegie
2021-05-29 22:21:44 UTC
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Kate Bingham got a BBC radio "Profile" this week.

<https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wjff>

I think she represents "real life"... up to a point.
She went shopping for vaccines, and bought some
which were still getting tested. Which is smart,
but it gets more complicated when you consider
who is paying for the stuff.
Kevrob
2021-05-30 03:48:34 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Kate Bingham got a BBC radio "Profile" this week.
<https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000wjff>
I think she represents "real life"... up to a point.
She went shopping for vaccines, and bought some
which were still getting tested. Which is smart,
but it gets more complicated when you consider
who is paying for the stuff.
OK, I figured out where the meme in the testimony came from:

https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/spider-man-pointing-at-spider-man

The proper spelling is Spider-Man (2 capital letters and one hyphen,)
and the plural is Spider-Men.
--
Kevin R
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