Will the European Commission Ignore Their Own Better Regulation Rules

On 19th May the European Commission pushed through their new “Better Regulation Package”.  President Juncker has made a big play about better regulation. He wants the EU to focus only a few areas and get rid of laws on the statute book that are not working.

You’d think no-one was against the idea of better regulation. Who wants poor laws on the books that don’t deliver and are not implemented.  There are certainly enough pages of the OJ full of laws that meet that criteria.

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Will the Commission’s Power Brokers Bind Themselves?

This Commission is a far more political animal, with power concentrated in the hands of a few people. It is doubtful that they will want to be constrained by the Commission’s own rules.  At the moment, things do not look positive.

Fast & Furious: A Sure Start for Futile Laws

 A near sure start way for getting bad laws in place is to push proposals through fast.

One of the first major proposals from the new Commission is on GMO authorisation.  Its currently being torn to shreds by the European Parliament and Council.  It’s like whoever wrote the proposal forgot about the EU Treaty and the internal market provisions. It would be interesting to know what the Commission’s Legal Service’s opinion was to this proposal.

How such an ill thought out proposal could have seen the light of day can be explained by the GMO proposal bypassing the Impact Assessment  review. The new guidelines, as well as the old, required :

An IA is required for Commission initiatives that are likely to have significant economic, environmental or social impacts

I can only presume that because this proposal fast tracked basic scrutiny was because it was mentioned in the President Juncker’s Priorities. This allowed it to bypass the hurdles of an impact assessment. If it had gone through a cursory scrutiny, some of the many structural (legal) flaws in the proposal would have been highlighted, and the proposal could have been re-worked and improved.

 

Roadblocks Gone?

With the Secretary-General Service seemingly becoming the secretariat of the Vice-Presidents, it will be hard for them to step in and block poorly thought out and designed proposals,  that have been pushed or signed off by the Vice-Presidents or President.

The agenda of the College of the Commissioners is already written until the start of 2016 with new high-level Commission proposals.  Some Services are working around the clock to make sure they have major proposals ready on time.  This will undoubtedly lead to the Commission bypassing vital steps of internal scrutiny, in particular the rigorous examination of the impact assessment, when political expediency steps in the way of meeting the politically set timetables.

The Commission’s own Better Regulation Guidelines were designed to stop poor proposals coming out of the Commission. It seems the political spirits of the Juncker Commission will  all too often ignore their own rules. That would be a shame.

What Would An Amoral Yoda Say To Win

What Would An Amoral Yoda Say To Win

I am taking advantage of an enforced medical break by catching up on my reading.

I am enjoying reading (re) Dr. Frank  Luntz’s books. He’s best known as a US Republican political consultant who helps candidates reframe the political debate.  Lately, he has spread his wings further and is also working helping business.

He is worth reading not just because he’s very effective at what he does, but he is also entertaining. Some see him as an amoral yoda, but it is best to learn from one of the most influential wordsmiths of our time.

In his latest book, Win, Luntz looks at the what makes great communicators.

He enjoyed writing the book. He went and talked, and in some cases, doors stepped, a group of men and women from business, politics, and sports, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Richard DeVos(Amway), Sheryl Sandberg,  and Arnold Schwarzenger.

What Would An Amoral Yoda Say To Win

I am taking advantage of an enforced medical break by catching up on my reading.

I am enjoying reading (re) Dr. Frank  Luntz’s books. He’s best known as a US Republican political consultant who helps candidates reframe the political debate.  Lately, he has spread his wings further and is also working helping business.

He is worth reading not just because he’s very effective at what he does, but he is also entertaining. Some see him as an amoral yoda, but it is best to learn from one of the most influential wordsmiths of our time.

In his latest book, Win, Luntz looks at the what makes great communicators.

He enjoyed writing the book. He went and talked, and in some cases, doors stepped, a group of men and women from business, politics, and sports, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Richard DeVos(Amway), Sheryl Sandberg,  and Arnold Schwarzenger.

The 9 P’s Of Winning

Lunt identifies 9 things the very top people have and then develops each idea in a separate chapter.  He draws down from the people he has worked with, such as Roger Ailes, who created Fox News, and those he interviewed.

Those 9 P’s are:

  1. People-Centredness
  2. Paradigm Breaking
  3. Prioritisation
  4. Perfection
  5. Partnership
  6. Passion
  7. Persuasion
  8. Persistence
  9. Principled Action

Throughout his 300 page book he provides clear and direct suggestions. He has worked with some of the world’s leading politicians and company leaders, so his observations are interesting. He says on leadership ‘simple formula for leadership: listen, learn, help, lead”.

On his meeting with Rupert Murdoch, he notes their curiosity, how they read all the time, and how they consume outside their comfort zone.

He also provides examples of the language that people who have these qualities use. He gives it with the intention not that people will copy the language but not the qualities. For each of his chapters he provides clear summaries, which I provide below.

People centred Lexicon

  1. I’m listening
  2. I hear you
  3. I get it
  4. I respect you
  5. My commitment
  6. You’re in control
  7. You decide

Key Phrases of Paradigm Breaking

  1. You deserve/you have the right to
  2. Life-changing impact (instead of “transformation”)
  3. Breakthrough
  4. A forensic approach
  5. Re-engineered
  6. American ingenuity
  7. Consumer-driven technology
  8. Patent Protected
  9. The new normal
  10. Wow

    Phrases That Prioritise

  1. First principles
  2. First things first
  3. Prevention/protection
  4. Getting our house in order
  5. If you remember one thing
  6. A straightforward approach
  7. Optimise (efficient and effective)
  8. Scalable
  9. The bottom line

Proving Perfection

  1. No excuses
  2. Extraordinary/exceptional
  3. Continuous improvement
  4. No surprises
  5. Hassle-free
  6. No worried
  7. Unparalleled flexibility
  8. Real-time
  9. Lasting solutions
  10. Total satisfaction

The Language of Partnership

  1. Fully aligned
  2. Inclusion (rather than diversity)
  3. United
  4. A fresh approach (rather than reorganisation)
  5. Indpendent thinking
  6. Independent certification
  7. Peace of mind
  8. Measurable results (rather than productivity or metrics)
  9. Employee-focused
  10. Personal responsibility

The Lexicon of Passion

  1. Imagine
  2. Let me fight for you
  3. Believe in better
  4. Celebrate
  5. Freedom
  6. Life is an adventure …. Will you join me?
  7. Nothing is more important than _

Passion in Presentation

  1. Explain why
  2. The physical delivery is just as import as the verbal message
  3. Voice volume is essential
  4. Speech must have a cadence
  5. Tell a story

Persuasion Words that Work

  1. Stability
  2. Predicability
  3. Insight
  4. Specialist (rather than expert)
  5. Performance-Driven (rather than profit)
  6. Common sense
  7. Reliable/reliability
  8. Convenience
  9. Consequences

The Language of Persistence

  1. Relentless
  2. Determined
  3. Single-minded focus
  4. A hands on approach
  5. Let’s get it done
  6. Let’s go to work

Language for Demonstrating Principles

  1. Accountability
  2. Strict standards
  3. Corporate culture
  4. Moral compass
  5. Social responsibility
  6. Objective and unbiased
  7. Uncompromising integrity
  8. The simple truth
  9. Chief ethics/ethical officer
  10. Say what you mean and mean what you say

My summary is superficial. I’d recommend you read Yoda’s words yourself.

 

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right , by Atul Gawande

Very clever people get things wrong. They get difficult and relatively simple things wrong.  There is a technique that they can use that cuts those errors down a lot.

It’s called a checklist.

Pilots, lawyers, doctors, and investment managers use them.

Pilots use them at the start of every flight. They have manuals on hand, in paper and electronically, to consult if there is an emergency. When they are used, they stop accidents becoming tragedies.

Boeing has a checklist factory for all their planes. An example is at the end.

Why Use A Checklist

It was not always the case. As planes became more complicated, flying them could not be left to the memory of one person alone. If they did, accidents often happened. Instead, test pilots made simple, brief and to the points lists on index cards, and that made flying a lot safer.

People can become very comfortable with something they have done many times. This may lend them to skipping some parts. The results can be fatal. Gawande ran a trial in the hospital, where he works as a surgeon, of using a checklist for operations. During the initial trial, infection rates went from 11% to 0%.

“ Checklists seem to provide protection against such failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit.” Gawade

Who Uses Checklists

He talks to investment managers, construction managers, surgeons, and pilots who all who use checklists to make sure things work smoothly. David Lee Roth even uses a checklist when Van Halen tours

Very clever people, let alone more normal people, will forget vital things when performing complex or complicated tasks. Sometimes these omissions won’t matter, but sometimes simple oversights will have serious repercussions from loss of money or life.

The benefit of a checklist is that complex and less complex operations can be broken down. Experts and non-experts can check that they have completed the essential steps and avoid mistakes.

It would be interesting to see how many firms have manuals that provide clear and precise checklists for the expected and unexpected procedures.

Push Back

 Gawke is clear there is a lot of reluctance from people to the introduction of checklists. The push back is greatest from the senior staff. The junior members of the team appear to most appreciate checklists.

He talks to a very successful investment manager whose fund does very well. The fund manager puts a large part of the success down to using a 3 day checklist. The manager notes that his colleagues don’t want to use the same checklist. He does not mind. His results are better than most in the industry, and he puts that down to using a checklist.

The checklist could be used for advice, daily monitoring, to complex regulatory opinions.  Breaking down the essential elements down into a clear and precise checklist will help anyone, whether senior or junior, when they are finishing off a piece of work. It will make sure the work correct, even if it completed late at night.

Examples of a Checklist

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Why Hidden Persuaders Get George Lakoff

I have taken advantage of illness to catch up on a lot of reading. At last I got around to finishing George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant“.

Progressive Guru

George Lakoff is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He’s been helping progressive causes better frame the public and political debate. He acknowledges  that progressives in the US are not very good at framing the public debate and that conservatives are. I’d think the same is true for most progressives in Europe.

Why Conservatives Are Better at Winning

Lakoff thinks that Conservatives are  much better at framing debates, and winning,  for many reasons, but two stand out.

One, they have invested in framing the public debate, by supporting think tanks, scholars, and media training, that have allowed them to dominate the airways. Progressives in the US have not made serious investments. In Europe the same is true.

Second, they take it seriously, and progressives have not.

Reframing – Using Language To Dominate Ideas

Reframing is changing the way the public sees the world. Lakoff notes that if you use the other sides language you are accepting their frame. Progressives often use the language, and hence the frame, of conservatives, and then they are surprised when they don’t persuade the public and win over people.

 

What Can Be Done

Lakoff lays out 11 things progressives can do:

1. Recognise what conservatives have done right and where progressives have missed the boat.
2. Remember, “Don’t think of an elephant”. If you keep their language and their framing and just argue against it, you lose because you are reinforcing their frame.
3. The truth alone will not set you free.
4. You need to speak from your moral perspective at all times… Drop the language of policy wonks.
5. Understand where conservatives are coming from …Know what you are arguing against. Be able to explain what they believe. Try to predict what they will say.
6. Think strategically, across issue areas.
7 Think about the consequences of proposals.
8. Remember that voters vote their identity and their values, which need not coincide with their self-interest.
9. Unite and cooperate.
10. Be proactive, not reactive. Play offense, not defense.
11. Speak to the progressive base in order to activate the nurturant model of wing voters.

(see pages 33-34).

 

No 5 – Understand Where They Are Coming From

I have met a very few people who understand where the other side are coming from. These few people have an uncanny knack of winning over opponents, or at least neutralising their public opposition, to their side.

Their colleagues often think these persuaders are cheating. Why is it one person can persuade the other side to back off, when organisations have spent decades and millions trying to beat the other side and failed?

Secrets of the Hidden Persuaders

When you spend some time with these hidden persuaders and listen to how they win people over, the fundamentals come down to two things.

First they know where the other side is coming from. They understand their positions and arguments for each of those positions. They have reasonable responses for each of these positions prepared in advance in language the other side understand and can readily accept. These hidden persuaders go out of their way not to piss people off, even if they seriously disagree  with the other sides positions.

Sometimes their colleagues think they by not repeating well warn official mantras (even if they know they don’t persuade anybody of anything outside the organisation) is an act of treachery.  Reframing language in  a way that wins over people is not treachery; keeping to language that alienates people is just foolish.

Second, these hidden persuaders listen. They listen intently and focus on the hidden verbal and non verbal clues people give off. They’ll bear down on you with focused eye contact and listen to the other side.

George Lakoff has written a book that progressives need to read and learn from. Business should also add Lakoff to their reading pile, next to the works of Frank Luntz,  and find out ways to really persuade and influence.