Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Finagling Pirate

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I have waited thirty days before responding to the recent award that was bought and sold to one of Caribbean’s most dangerous pirates.

I had to wait to respond reasonably... (not that my tone here is reasonable). I was in shock that our leaders... our leaders - some of them trusted, some of them even beloved... some of them to whom we now look for a new direction... That those leaders could make a decision like that. Or that they would keep something like that secret. Or that they would allow such a decision to fog forward... fully well knowing how most Antiguans and Barbudan's would react.

They demonstrated no less than contempt for the people... knowing that the deed when done... would be done... their hands soiled... and some of their pocket books well oiled... or with a promise of at least - a little pirate grease.

The unforgivable and damning sin of it all is that the reward was transacted by Antigua and Barbuda. It would have been bad enough if the pirate had finagled it from some other bribery responsive, small island Caribbean nation. But, no... it came from Antigua and Barbuda. Our weak knee’d, beggie-beggie, kow-towing leaders, felt that they had to place a copper sword across that pirate’s shoulders. Remember this... pirates don't want copper... they want gold. And when you see them accept copper... there is gold hidden somewhere, not far off... hidden in the mangrove or buried in our beautiful white sands!

No wonder one of the other really deserving award recipient of international acclaim is purported to have felt that his/her moment ‘in the sun’ was cheapened by this disgraceful demonstration of brown-nosing by the hat-in-hand, under-the-table, submissive ‘decision-makers’.

And can you imagine the nerve of this pirate that he would say that those of us who objected to his brazen finagling of the award... that we objected because of ‘envy or jealousy.’ All that remains is for us to find out in the next few months, who gets grease, how much grease they will get, and what they will use the grease to do.

Of this I am certain… whatever they thought they would get from this… they won’t. That grease will never turn to butter. Mark my words: Nothing good will come of it! Not for them!

What really bothers me is not so much that the pirate is after our birthright… Thieves and pirates are always out to pilfer, filch or ‘finagle’ your property away from you. What bothers me is that our week-knee’d leaders have thrown their arms wide-open to allow the pilfering and filching of what is not theirs to give.

And yes… it is from Antigua & Barbuda that he wheedled and wangled the award. But, it seems as though, this pirate has ‘captured’ the minds of much of the rest of the Caribbean.

He certainly has wheedled his way and inextricably entwined himself into West Indies Cricket… And our Cricketing greats… just like our week-knee’d politicians… have opened their arms – and their pockets – to his wheeling, dealing and manipulating!

Let me emphasize this prediction of the wheedling, wangling and finagling… “Nothing good will come of it!”

And forever more... that award has been tainted.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Young People" and Crime!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

In his 2006 Independence address to the nation, Prime Minister the Honorable Baldwin Spencer outlined the various pre-election pledges that his government had already fulfilled only two and a half years into their tenure. The Prime Minister also highlighted a number of the challenges which they and the nation face. One of the challenges he highlighted was the concern his Government has on "the issue of crime and violence in our nation especially the recent upsurge among our young people."

It is undeniable that there seems to have been waves of violence that have shocked many of us to our very core. This is not the Antigua and Barbuda that we know. However, there are several concerns that I would like to raise on the issue of the increase in violence.

Some of the acts of violence perpetrated on our citizens receive huge amounts of publicity. These include break-ins, robberies, and homicides. However there are other acts of violence that are as rampant that do not receive such high levels of publicity. And indeed these other acts of violence do not get high levels of public outrage. These include rapes... particularly against children, and family violence that does not include murder.

As a matter of fact, when some of these crimes are committed, there seems to be as much sentiment blaming victims and providing some measure of sympathy for abusers.

I am not sure that the Prime Minister's comments about "crime and violence" in the nation did justice to the crimes against children and violence within families. As a matter of interest, his focus on the "upsurge of violence... among our young people" at the very least, might lead some to believe that a major amount of crimes are committed by youth. While I cannot scientifically challenge that assertion, I can also say that no one has supported it with facts and figures.

In addition, while some youth experts identify "young people" broadly -from birth to 35 years of age, when the general public hears 'youth' or 'young people' they most often think of teenagers or those in their early twenties. (Of course, it also depends on how old you are... My 92 year old mother thinks that I am among the 'young people'!)

Here is my point: We need to be very specific in identifying what the problems are, who are at risk to become victims, who are at risk to become perpetrators, and who are already perpetrators.

The Prime Minister went on to say that his Government believes that "our young people are this nation’s future; they must be physically and mentally prepared for it, in addition to possessing the right values to govern and make sound decisions."

In the above statement, Mr. Spencer is not talking about a 35 year old "youth". I would argue that he is not even speaking about a 25 year old "youth"! He is assuredly speaking about 13 year olds and 17 years olds... that is my good guess.

How much violence are those "youths" carrying out? Yes, yes... we certainly have incidents of some violence and criminal behavior by some young people in those age ranges - probably more at an even higher age range like 19... And yes... there might even be some budding gang behavior (apparently fostered and encouraged by a few misguided political comrades).... but the vast majority of our 'young people' are not involved in "crime and violence".

Do we have a problem among those youths? We certainly do. How do we address that problem? See my previous posting for a comprehensive suggestion. I agree with the Prime Minister that we must come together and design and develop creative solutions. And we need to do so now!

However, we have another problem. The problem of violent and criminal acts carried out by adults on other adults and on children!

We also need to find specific solutions to deal with the increase of adult criminals sneaking around our premises. We need to find solutions for the increased number of illegal guns that are owned by otherwise law abiding Antiguans and Barbudans. There are several cases of adult violence where individuals shot other adults over emotional and heated conflicts.

In conclusion, I agree that we seem to have increasing levels of violence among youth. We must address that. But we must also address the high levels of criminal and violent behavior perpetrated by adults.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Violence & Drug Prevention Training Needed!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

Political, social and economic leaders in Antigua and Barbuda need to come together and initiate powerful strategies to curb the apparently growing levels of violence and drug use among our youth. Despite the best efforts of our youth workers, educators, community officers, law enforcement personnel and other adults who work with youth they have not been able to stem what seems to be a growing problem of violence and drug use among our youth.

Despite the billion of dollars dumped in the “war-on-drugs” by countries around the world, the number of young people using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs has not decreased. And, despite the huge amount of other dollars spent on placing metal detectors in schools, incarcerating young violent offenders, and placing more police officers on the streets and even in some schools, violence among young people has not decreased… it is on the increase. Billions of dollars have also been used to fund the revolving door of drug addiction and treatment, building prisons, increasing the number of law enforcement officers, adding magistrates, judges, probation and parole officers, and prisoner officers. All of these things have been tried without much success – other than filling prisons with younger and younger people.

Few people would argue that a major shift in strategy is needed.

That shift must go in the direction of prevention.

The major assumption of prevention is that if young people are taught key cognitive, behavioral and social skills and presented with critical information, they will be less likely to be involved in delinquent behaviors – including violent behavior and drug use or abuse. Additionally, prevention efforts seek to address and reduce individual, family and community factors that predispose young people to adopt negative lifestyles and behaviors. Prevention programs also enhance and strengthen key protective/resiliency factors that propel youth towards socially acceptable and personally rewarding lifestyles.

In Antigua and Barbuda, there is growing concern about the apparent increase in drug use by youth and their involvement in criminal and violent activities. Political, community and business leaders have recognized that these developments pose a serious social, economic and public health threat. They have also realized that not only does violent activities and drug use and abuse pose an immediate danger to the society, but they also menace the future development of the country’s human resources – its youth. Our leaders should therefore be committed to finding solutions to this critical and growing problem.

One solution to the threat of youth violence and drug use and abuse is to train adults and youths in drug and violence prevention. Such training would involve all stakeholders from public and private sectors and the community. Participants would include Youth Leaders, Teachers, Prevention Professionals, Community Outreach Officers, Health Professionals, Parole & Probation Officers, Social Workers, Sport Coaches, Psychologists, School Counselors, Addiction Counselors, Youth Workers, Program Supervisors and Managers, Policy Officials, Training Officers, School Administrators and Law Enforcement Officers.

A drug and violence prevention training program would train participants to work with youth to reduce drug use and violence and encourage them to adopt more socially acceptable and life enhancing values and behaviors. On completion of such training, participants would be prepared, certified and qualified to design, develop and implement prevention and intervention activities targeted to pre-teens, teenagers and young adults in Antigua and Barbuda.

Another feature of a national focus on prevention would involve political, social and business leaders in discussions on how they can craft policy measures that would support the shift towards prevention. Political leaders would need to demonstrate their commitment by supporting youth and community workers, and educators with the staff and material resources. Business leaders could support prevention programs by sponsoring prevention community and school activities. Businesses could also sponsor nation-wide prevention initiatives such as radio and television ads focused on youth. Social leaders could add drug and violence prevention programming to their agenda and could serve as and provide volunteers for nationwide prevention events.

The core of all of the above ideas is centered around a comprehensive training strategy where all stakeholders (including political and business leaders) receive a minimum level of training in the scientific methodology of violence and drug prevention.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pirates in Heroes Clothing

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

Why are we surprised that our resident Pirate of the Caribbean is heartless? A quote from Kurt Vonnegut should give us both insight and clarity about our modern day “Pirate in Heroes Clothing.”

“The chief weapon of pirates, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.”

Certainly, over the last ten years, Antiguans and Barbudans have been astonished by the nefarious, malicious, vengeful, controlling, and manipulative ploys of the Pirate of the Caribbean who partially resides here.

Nobody could believe” it when the pilots were threatened, when the islands were filched, when the airport lands were purloined, when credible Antiguans were incredibly enticed into and then unceremoniously kicked out from his organization, when… well, it’s too much… let me stop.

But I must add that many people who sincerely believed that this “Pirate” was a “Hero” are now doing an abrupt ‘about face’ in light of his recent heartless action related to a local program involving a “House” full of dependent women and children.

The fact is that Vonnegut is right… Pirates, whether they are from the Caribbean or elsewhere are not only ‘heartless’ they are also greedyexcessively greedy. Modern day pirates like the one who has leeched himself onto us, will not be involved in anything unless there is either an obvious or devious and carefully manipulated scheme behind their apparently “heroic” offerings.

Pirates will offer you a carrot and when it is time to spring their trap, they will of course snatch it away. The bigger the carrot… the more devious the trap. And there is something else… the bigger the victim’s perceived need… the bigger the carrot and the more devious, elaborate and emotionally appealing the trap will be.

These are not ordinary carrots. Pirates, we must remember, deal only in gold and silver and things that are precious and of high value. And their gold and silver don’t belong to them either… they ‘acquire’ those from other people. So these are ‘acquired’ golden carrots that are offered to needy victims.

And we in Antigua are ripe for the pickings… vulnerable because there is a lot of need... just the kind of situation for a greedy pirate. Pirates of old never operated in England, or their home territories. Modern day pirates don't operate their piratical activities in their homes either... There, they are on their best behavior... Apparently... But here... we are easy pickings - psychologically and materially!

A case in point is our needy cricketing teams not only from Antigua… but from around the region – and of course our Windies cricket team. Their needs are off the charts…

So here comes the Pirate of… well… the West Indies… Here he comes with a humongous golden carrot… wait… not one carrot… but a whole ‘crocus bag’ full of them… And of course, our cricket legends get sucked in, our cricket boards get sucked in, (the politicians are already sucked in) our cricketers get sucked in… and of course the public gets sucked in… into the trap of course. When will the trap be sprung? Who knows? The pirate of course…

There is a psychological, Machiavellian one-man game going on. It is a simple ruse. It is also a psycho-physiological ploy used by the drug cartels (that is an intriguing parallel). Get the people hooked… and you have got them addicted and dependent for life! In this case, money is the drug...

Forget about teaching people to fish… just give them the fish… make them dependent… and you can take their lands, their houses, their little islands, corrupt their best minds, make the best and brightest of their youth dependent on and addicted to their ‘gold’, control their political parties, manipulate their politicians, own their ministers (both types)… take away their big island, own and manipulate the current “king’s” advisors, maybe even one day - own the “king”… or become the “king”.

Sounds impossible? Well if you analyze the above carefully, our resident Pirate is more than half way there…

Let’s go back to Vonnegut’s quotation: “The chief weapon of pirates was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.”

Let us focus on the phrase “until it was too late.” It’s too late for those pilots. It’s too late for ……… - (well I don’t want to call my friend’s name), it’s too late for some of the staff bribed, enticed and stolen away from our indigenous airline (then, of course, kicked to the curb) … it’s too late for the contractors that were sacked… it’s too late to get our lands back… it’s too late to get our islands back… and the Airport… well – that’s an on-going story.

And it is too late for the poor, unfortunate residents of the House…. All they wanted was the temporary shelter they were promised, a hot meal and somewhere to lay their heads at night. That's all they wanted... temporary relief! But...

It will soon be too late for LIAT – that’s another story.

It might take one year, or it might take five… (it took 8 years before the heroic plans for the House were abandoned) but it will be too late for our cricket… Maybe it is already too late…

And it will be too late for any government that depends on and gets addicted to the Pirate's golden carrots... Maybe its too late there too...


Friday, February 17, 2006

The Writing on the Wall

Stop Planning & Start Doing
Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I have taken it upon myself to read, re-read and read again the writings of one of Antigua’s giants of history, economy and philosophy: Tim Hector.

As much as I have been dumfounded by the political company he kept in his latter years, this pales in comparison to the awe in which I hold the man for his insight, clarity in articulation and depth of perspective.

And so, I would like to share with you a few paragraphs from a 1996 “Fan the Flame” Article entitled: “Lester Bird Broke the Neck of the Economy”.

“It is not an accident that the ‘best and brightest’ in Antigua over the last twenty years did not go into the productive and creative sectors. They went into traditional professions, law, medicine, teaching. Few went into management, engineering, marketing. This was because the productive sectors of the Antigua and Barbuda economy became even more underdeveloped between 1976-1996.

We are going to suffer in the future from this lack of trained personnel for modern industrial and productive activity. Besides, the free movement of skilled labour in all CARICOM territories, is going to make Antigua & Barbuda a net importer of skilled labour. This together with the fact, that nearly one-third of the Antigua labour force some 7,300 workers are already ‘foreign nationals’ will complicate both politics and economics here. The economy is a thorough-going Bird mess.”

Imagine that Tim Hector in 1996 was predicting that we would suffer from the “lack of trained personnel for modern industrial and productive activity.” Listen to the nurses at Holberton, have a discussion with a police officer, call your child’s teacher, talk with your mechanic… the chances are that you would be speaking with someone from either Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent… and well… even Dominica! And if you speak with a business owner in English Harbour, Redcliffe Key or a real estate agent from addresses unknown – you will be speaking with someone from Wisconsin, Texas, Singapore, Germany, Canada or some such place!

Furthermore, Tim Hector saw what would happen with the advent of CSME! “The free movement of skilled labor… will make Antigua and Barbuda a net importer of skilled labour.” All because our political leaders failed to encourage, motivate and stimulate young Antiguans and Barbudans to go into the ‘productive and creative’ sectors! And, it is my contention that the threat from Caribbean nationals pales in comparison to the future hegemonic threat from the neo-colonialists (economic pirates and privateers) from North America and Europe. (But that is another discussion for another article.)

Tim Hector continues: “Simultaneously, Antigua and Barbuda, under successive Bird administrations did nothing to develop its human resources: from management through entry level labourers. That is, did nothing to train managers and provide labourers with skills. There was no plan. Therefore, those things dignified with the name "skills training" were pork-barrel patronage programmes, to provide workers to existing firms, with the government paying millions of dollars went down the drain. These millions added to the disastrous assembly type foray, made awful financial matters worse. No project instituted under the aegis of Lester Bird has ever worked. Each and everyone has always been a drain on the national treasury.”

Not only did millions of dollars go down the drain… so did the talents and aspirations of thousands of children in primary and secondary schools. They looked around and they saw few opportunities for a robust economic future. They looked around and saw their mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts going to dead end jobs, learning nothing new and doing nothing creative, sitting at desks twiddling their thumbs, passing ledgers from one desk to another… under productive and underperforming.

These same children had a window to the world through CNN, MTV, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. They kind of knew that it was different elsewhere… that there was a mismatch between what was happening in Antigua and Barbuda… and the rest of the world - and even the rest of the Caribbean.

These children watched as they moved from Infant 1 to Junior 5… and noticed that their teachers were changing… that the doctors in the clinics were changing… that the nurses at the hospital were changing… These children watched as successive governments were unable or unwilling to find an Antiguan or Barbudan who could serve as Attorney General. When they went to the National Museum, they found a non-Antiguan/Barbudan telling them about our history. All around them, their uncles, aunts, and cousins had been marginalized and in some ways made irrelevant to the national scheme of things. And somewhere in the inner consciousness they knew that their future chances were limited… their birthrights were being stolen right from under them… their futures were dim… and they knew and know it. Go to any school… Ottos, Bendals, Golden Grove, Pigotts… look into their eyes… I can tell you… these are not the eyes that I saw when I taught in 1978. No.

I am from Perry Bay… Tinning Village… Grays Farm. I taught at Greenbay School. Each time I pass through the area… I see the children of students that I taught… hanging on the corners. I even see their parents hanging on the same corners. Unemployed. Underemployed. And some… well… unaccustomed to employment.

And, each time I pass… or walk by… someone looks up through eyes dimmed with pain and disillusionment and shouts, “Mr. Mottley!” Or, “Teacher!” And, tears come to my heart and find a path to my eyes.

Anyone who dismisses the quarter century of “Birdonomics” as just another set of chapters in our history, have not really walked through Grays Farm, Point, or Old Road with their eyes open. They like some of my former students have been numbed and drugged by years of abandonment by the political elite, or they were blinded by their own marginal successes.

Tim Hector in his 1996 article, called for the then Bird government to change the way they did business. As pre-requisites to any success, he called for “an accountable government, free of scandal, which can mobilise the public for the economic tasks at hand. Nothing else will do. The more we wait, the worse it will become. Time is against us. A scandal-ridden regime, cannot, repeat, cannot, mobilise any nation, anywhere, anytime. Need I say more? The economic writing is on the wall, for all to see and read. Those who will not hear, the old adage goes, will feel. Nothing educates like feeling.

“The economic writing is on the wall.” Today, February 17th, 2006, fully ten years after Hector wrote his article, we have a new administration. Yet, it is not clear to me that we have been fully educated by the failures of the past. My heart is still crying not only for the plight of my former students, but for the condition that their children and grandchildren find themselves in. I am yet to see any changes in Greenbay, Grays Farm, Point or Old Road or even to get the feeling that substantive changes are on the way. I am yet to feel any sense of hopefulness and motivation.

I believe that some of our new leaders have the right intentions... but they surround themselves with people whose intentions are at least questionable. A business person who is disconnected from our community... who has never been connected to our community... who is your advisor... confidante and constant companion... will not be reminding you of the plight of your people. His conversations will not be about training the kids of the Jarvis', the Davis' or the Brown's. He will be talking about relaxing the laws so that he can import this or that from China or Brazil. He will not be whispering about fixing the housing situation along Christian Street, he will be trying to get his hands on the exclusive no-bid contract to build the next government office, or grab that prime piece of land for next to nothing for some will-o-wisp project.

I am yet to see training for the people who it need it in areas where they can feel a sense of pride and contribution, a sense of belonging and ownership - and a sense that they can make a real living. I see even more foreign nurses, teachers, mechanics and police officers – not to mention accountants, lawyers, attorneys general… even unelected ministers of government!

I am yet to see a major initiative to address the plight of indigenous Antiguans and Barbudans, to increase their skill levels, enhance their professional training and qualifications so that they can raise themselves out of the quagmire (mud) in which they were abandoned by the former and seemingly ignored by the current.

Two years pales in comparison to twenty-eight years of scandalous abandonment. Yes. But... two years is still too long. We cannot wait for the economy to be right. We cannot wait for the deficit to be reduced. We cannot wait to weight the options. We cannot wait for the consultations. We cannot wait for the programmes to move from the drawing board. We have waited for over a quarter century. We can wait no longer! We have been planning what we would do... ought to do when the time came. Enough of this action planning. Stop planning and start taking action!

“The economic writing is on the wall.” The social writing is in our face. We need real change, real fast!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Beware of Blunders

Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I have been reading a series of books and articles on marketing and have been intrigued by the types of serious blunders that major corporations and organizations make. Many of these blunders are so costly that sometimes even the CEO gets fired!

As I examined some of these blunders, I thought of our twin island state, our new government, the new ‘directors’ and our new ‘CEO’. I wondered at some of the blunders that our leaders 'might' be making and the potential cost if they don’t do better.

Here a few of those costly blunders from the corporate world. I leave it to you the reader to apply them to issues and concerns you may have with our ‘Sunshine Government’. (In some instances, I give in to the temptation to add a few artistic comments...)

Attempt “Business As Usual”

When a company has serious problems like issues with cashflow and charges of corruption and unethical practices, the leaders cannot act as if it is “business as usual”. It won’t be. When a company misses Wall Street expectations, institutes layoffs or closings, or announces some other bad news, it needs to rebuild lost confidence. Your brand has been damaged. Your shareholders and stakeholders (supporters and voters?) will look at you with a more critical eye. People will doubt you in ways they never used to. It will take time to rebuild. Rather than “business as usual”, act as if it is “business unusual”. Get busy. Communicate. Be transparent. Take massive and continuous action. And, keep your promises!

Lie, Mislead, and otherwise Obfuscate

Lying never works. It sounds obvious, but companies and executives (and politicians?) do it all the time. It can land you in jail or ruin your career (well – we have yet to see that in Antigua & Barbuda). People hate delivering bad news, so they tell a “white lie” which they often rationalize as somehow doing good for others. Or, some people don’t tell the whole truth. They only state the minimum they have to.

Be honest and direct about the facts. Be brutally honest about the facts… and stop putting all the blame on your predecessors. If they did something wrong then your shareholders or stakeholders will take action (they already did… they put you in charge!)

Start by being honest with yourself about the condition of the business (and the country) and your role in what has happened or is happening. Get clear about this. Then you can decide how best to handle the situation.

Be honest with your stakeholders and shareholders (voters and supporters). If you are laying 25% of your people off, then say that’s what you are doing. Don’t say, “We are laying off 15% and expect some additional headcount reductions through normal attrition.” Don’t say we want 700 staff members to take the package if you really want 1500 to do so!

Not Communicating…

The truth will never be as bad as the rumors will become. “No comment” or worse… not communicating with the public will increase the untruths and gossip. It will also unleash the venom of the people you used to be forthright with. The press will attack harder, and your employees’ and your stakeholders’ distrust and mistrust will grow deeper. People will begin to make comparisons with the worst past experiences that they have had. This will undermine your efforts with customers and stakeholders and drive your ‘stock’ down. It doesn’t matter how much it hurts. You must overcommunicate – particularly if you have a history of effective communicating ‘in the past’.

Don’t be surprised if the press and analysts misquote you, or only use part of what you said to make you or your company (or government) look worse. It happens. Get over it. That comes with the job of being a senior executive (minister?). The bottom line is, if you don’t explain the condition the business or economy is in and what you are doing about it, things will get much worse.

Communicate Confusing Messages

When you’re in trouble, get clear about what you are going to say before you open your mouth. Rambling or trying to make 16 points will make you look confused, defensive, or stupid.
Appoint no more than three executives to do the talking: your CEO and two others. Then get clear on three -- and only three -- key messages for them to deliver: the facts as you know them, the actions you’re taking now, and how your actions today, position you for future success. Write these messages down, and practice saying them. Get a speech coach! Get a speech coach!

Write down every possible question you can anticipate from customers, employees, partners, shareholders, press, and analysts. Underneath each, write the number of one of the key messages that best answers the question. Practice answering those questions with a key message until you can recite them in your sleep. Then practice them again. All three people should be saying the same thing. No diversions. No ad libbing. No ‘un-rehearsed’ off-the-cuff remarks. (Yes… you have that right! All spontaneous, off-the-cuff remarks should be rehearsed!!!)

And, oh yes! Speaking on the platform is different from speaking in the boardroom.The CEO should get a speech coach! But speak in your voice and with your passion!

Believe Confidential and Internal Communications Are Internal and Confidential!

Write every email as if it will be printed in the morning newspaper and posted on the Internet. It will be. Do the same thing with your regular mails and conversations.

Don’t kid yourself about this. It doesn’t matter how much you trust the people you are working with. Someone absolutely will leak the information. Particularly when you least expect it. Assume that all of your stakeholders and competitors will be on every internal video or audio conference-call. Assume that whenever you speak, wherever you speak, to whomever you speak, that there is a “Voice” listening. “Steel” yourself and get ready for the “Fire” of criticisms that will come your way because of what you said. Or, don’t say it!

Understand that your executive management, board of directors, auditors, lawyers, consultants, (cabinet, party members, constituents, inner-circle members) and friends will leak information. No matter how much they promise not to. No matter how many confidentiality agreements they sign.

Forget this, and you’ll get stung. Hard!

Play Defense

Within three weeks of your bad-news announcement, you must launch a strong marketing offense. Why three weeks? First, people need time to digest the bad news and recover from what happened. Second, if you wait much longer, your stakeholders (supporters and voters) will assume that you have no future and will start bailing on you. And your competition will be holding a wake (with wine, champagne and Cavalier).

Launch an integrated marketing offensive targeted at customers, prospects, partners, shareholders, stakeholders, employees, and ‘competitors’ about the future of your business (government & party). It should include: three keys to the turnaround, a vision for the future of your ‘industry’ (party), and a vision for the future of your business as an industry leader.

The CEO – not the economists, not the lawyers, not the chief financial officer – must demonstrate the leader’s vision for the future of the enterprise!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stand Your Ground

By Marcus Mottley, Ph.D.

As we move deeper into the New Year, the critics of the Baldwin Spencer administration are gearing up for a concerted onslaught. Not only are the critics lining up to attack, other individuals have come together to form “spheres of influence” to pressure and manipulate the Government to adopt their agenda of financial gluttony.

My message to the Prime Minister is this:

Stand Your Ground
The wolves in sheep clothing have gathered around
Don’t Back Down
Stand Firm on Your Ground…

It is understandable that an opposition party will critique and criticize. It is understandable that opposition party members will “oppose” the policies of the government of the day. Now everyone knows… that the core members of this opposition could any day now be charged with serious crimes of gross gluttonousness and excessively greedy, criminal corruption while they were in public office. We know this. And they know this. We know that they are guilty. And they know that they are guilty. What is beyond my understanding is the crass boldness of these gluttonous thieves. Men who gave themselves the Peoples’ prime land for pennies and resold the same land not for pounds but for thousands of pounds… Men who received bribes from Piratical Privateers who operate in Antigua… now use those ill-gotten dollars to enrich themselves and masquerade as successful property owners and businessmen.

If these are the caliber of political opponents who critique and criticize the current government… then I say to the Cabinet….

Stand Your Ground…. Don’t Back Down!

Even more distressing than these tainted political opponents, are those who claim to want to support the new administration and have formed blocks and spheres of influence so that they can “capitalize” on the treasure trove of opportunities that they perceive to exist. These opportunists include Privateers of American and Middle Eastern origins and operatives with local business interests.

These are the ones who pose the most danger to the Baldwin Spencer administration. There are several reasons for this. First, there seems to be a vacuum of knowledge and experience within the administration in many critical areas of governance. Indeed, for the first several months, the new government fumbled around because of this apparent lack, because of the lack of files and clear paper trail (thanks to the corrupt politicians of the former administration), and because of poor preparation in the years leading up to the UPP’s success at the polls. Whatever the reasons for the vacuum of knowledge and experience, “supporters” appeared out of every ‘nook and cranny’ to “help” the new government.

Some of these ‘experienced and knowledgeable’ “supporters” had, of course, obtained their ‘experience and knowledge’ at the feet of, and in bed with, the ‘corrupt politicians’ of the last administration. Many of them had ‘wheeled’, ‘dealed’ and dined with the corrupt in high places. Many of them, leading up to the elections, had played both sides of the fence… hedging their bets… just in case. When the UPP won, they were in the right place, at the right time, with the right balance of capital, information and, of course, influence.

Now they seem to have the Baldwin Spencer administration in the palm of their gluttonous paws. Most of them sit in high places… officially and unofficially.

My message to the government is this…

For twenty plus years you formed a band
A tight ‘brotherhood’ to protect this, our land
Remember the lonely times when the ‘brotherhood’ fought together
Remember when you all but cried in despair on each other’s shoulder

Don’t let those privateering usurpers break that bond…
Don’t let money and influence destroy your historical union
Remember that your “nabel ‘tring” buried ya-so-so in this land…
Stand firm together with the ‘brotherhood’ that brought you to this position

The Baldwin Spencer administration swept into power with high promises of transparency, integrity and responsible fiscal policies. It is clear to me that they are valiantly attempting to hold fast to their promises. But, because of the wily dealings of the influential opportunists, the unity of the party behind the government, is beginning to crack. Many of these opportunists publicly give lip service to the principle of integrity, but privately, they say that now is their time. They claim they have suffered in exclusion for 28 years… and now they intend to reap the benefits of inclusion. And they pose a very serious threat to this government… because they can easily become the equivalent of those crassly bold, gluttonously greedy members and associates of the former administration…

Mr. Spencer….

Stand Your Ground
The wolves in sheep clothing
And the sheep in wolves clothing… have gathered around
Don’t Back Down
Stand Firm in Your Ground!