Gary needs more lightning, less thunder!

Brace yourself for heightened aggression from the police! That’s the message I received from the recent television interview with Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith about the alleged Police killing of five young men in Laventille. To paraphrase this very powerful citizen – anyone who objects to his approach either has not been impacted by crime or benefits from the criminal elements. Additionally, this leader resorted to sarcasm and ridicule to respond to legitimate concerns being raised by the interviewer. In a direct jab at his predecessor’s failure to impact the level of crime, the CoP questioned: has it really worked well for the last few years? In a direct ridicule of the grandmother of one of the slain victims who said that the boys held their hands up, the CoP described her as “Super Granny flying through the air”. Super Gary is confident that he has 95% of the population backing him so feels emboldened to insult citizens.

If I were his boss, I would muzzle him for the next 90 days and only allow the Communications Officer to speak to the Media. My first reason for muzzling him is that we have not really seen the impact of his gun talk as yet. As I write, we are counting the number of murders committed for the weekend. Commissioner Gary needs to give his plans time to work before boasting about how he will peg back the criminals because the evidence is that so far, he has not.

My second reason for muzzling him is that he has to be taught what to say. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind is the saying: “not all talk good tuh talk”. His boast that he will fire anyone caught in wrongdoing simply confirms his ignorance of process and procedure. He cannot do so without following a specific procedure, but the Police Association will teach him that lesson. You may say, “That is not what he meant,” but a true leader would have responded from a position of knowledge. That kind of activity is best dealt with by your actions and not your statement of intent.

My third reason for muzzling him is that as a person in a position of leadership, sarcasm cannot be your “go to” approach. Sarcasm as a literary device is often used when intended to mock or insult. The Commissioner of Police should not be intending to mock or insult any member of the public, particularly the media and, in a media interview. His response “Oh Jesus Lord Fadder…” was simply out of place for a leader.

If the CoP’s boss takes my advice, he would have Gary work tirelessly on finding out exactly what happened with the killing of five youths in Laventille and provide an account to John Public. That would demonstrate his commitment to being accountable. His second task would be to identify a collaborative approach for members of the public to work with the police on providing the information they so desperately need and, thirdly I would make the process of promotion transparent.

And while Gary is on lock-down, his boss needs to remind him of the old Apache saying: “It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand”

Advertisements

Less Testosterone needed to solve the Petrotrin Issue!

The Petrotrin story could have had a better outcome if only there was less testosterone being thrown about.   This is clearly a situation of, “I am in charge and I will do what I want.” Considering that you have been a large part of the decision making over the past 20 years and are therefore responsible, do you believe that this how to run a company a (or country) competently?Collaboration Image
The PNM has presided over bad decision making and politicking at Petrotrin for decades, but now the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance only want to express this situation purely with economics.  The crucial facet being missed by purely economic argument is that this is also a socio-cultural issue and a human development issue. It is about changing the way labour and business interact to produce outcomes, moving from the futility of adversarial stance to a collaborative one.

Once again, the government isis also missing the “boat” by turning its back on an opportunity to be a game-changer.  There could have been two outcomes; first, a message to “John and Kavita Public” that we have to give a fair day’s labour for a fair day’s pay and second, negotiated (ie. mutually agreed) outcomes are more likely to succeed than those which are adversarial.  For either of these outcomes to be achieved, deep dialogue and collaboration would have been required.

The leadership keeps missing the potential demonstration effect that can impact every part of our country.  Instead they choose the worn-out power play informed by “might is right” and the power of the patriarchy. Our country needs to see good minds get together (regardless of gender or socioeconomic status), and have a robust exchange of ideas to emerge with solutions which they all agree to uphold.  If that happens it will signal that we are really “all in this together”.  How can this autocratic display of power be allowed to occur in the lead up to elections? I keep hearing a line from Sparrow’s little ditty – “Who ain’t like it could get the hell out of here”.

The leadership is also missing the “boat” which can signal that there is always a middle ground that could be attained but it requires accountability, collaboration and transparency.  How could you sign a Memorandum of Agreement in April and less than six months later, pretend that it never existed? There was a time when a person’s word was his bond and we had gentlemen’s agreements.  Well, if a written agreement can be broken at this level, then what do you expect from the ordinary citizens? They will behave exactly as the leadership and speak with “forked tongues”.

The anecdotal evidence suggests that this population is waiting and anxious to follow anyone whom they believe will be honest and act in their common interest and not in the interest of certain cliques of people.  What the Prime Minister and his circle should be doing is figuring out how to get Roget and his aggressors to sit around a table and hammer out an agreement. They will all then have the moral authority to tackle WASA, the Police, the Health Sector and anywhere there is public expenditure in the provision of goods and services.

The industrial court has given us an opportunity and it is up to us to grasp it, run with it and be guided by the notions of Accountability, Collaboration and Transparency (ACT).

Requiem for Victims of Sexual Harassment

Disaster Concept. Desaster Ahead Roadsign.

You are cordially invited to

The Daily Requiem for all victims of sexual harassment at

Angostura Holdings Limited and indeed throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

The chief celebrant will be

Mr. Terrence Bharath,

Chairman, Angostura Holdings Limited.

In anticipation of his sermon here are two quotes from previous sermons. On July 17th, 2018, his response to my letter said in part:

“In any event, this matter has engaged the attention of the Company, its Attorneys and Board, for a sufficiently long period and the matter is now considered closed”.  Ltr to DDemming 17July2018 SIGNED

His response dated September 18, 2018 said in part:

“Angostura is a company registered under the Companies Act, there are rules and regulations which govern it its operations and dissemination of information. As a member of the Public I’m afraid that you are not entitled to the information which you seek in your letter of 10th September.”  T. Bharath September 18

Here are the questions I posed to the Chief Celebrant:

  1. Is there a sexual harassment policy at Angostura?
  2. When was it implemented?
  3. Was it accompanied by sensitivity/awareness training?
  4. How can a member of the public (an indirect shareholder) access the policy?
  5. What specific actions have the Board taken to ensure that the issue of sexual harassment is ventilated throughout the organization, taking into consideration that sexual harassment is not gender-specific.
  6. What is the clear process for an employee to bring a claim of sexual harassment to the management?

These are simple questions, the provision of whose answers could be easily dispensed with in order to close the matter.

But maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, it would be clear that the sexual harassment policy was not implemented until after the claim was made under the Whistle Blower policy. It was a situation of post facto implementation.

Maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, it would become obvious that there has been no sensitivity training for employees at Angostura Holdings Limited.

Maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, we would realize that the sexual harassment policy is opaque.

Mr. Terrence Bharath was a member of the Board of Directors which presided over three failed attempts to investigate exactly what happened. He is now slapping his female workers in the face by using the Company’s Act as a shield against the legitimate questions and he might be right, but there is a larger dilemma to be considered.

What is the responsibility of companies which are partly owned by the State? Was the Prime Minister not acting on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago when he appointed the Board of Directors? Shouldn’t the tenets of accountability and transparency apply? Don’t we (members of the Public) have a right to be informed of the policies of companies which are partly purchased by our tax dollars?

 

Enlightened Leadership is needed!

Amcham and Cipriani Labour College recently demonstrated what enlightened leadership can look like when they hosted a conversation about the closure of the Petrotrin refinery. The numbers presented at that session painted a grim picture and a persuasive argument for the closure of the Petrotrin refinery. That information is not new – we knew that the Pointe a Pierre Refinery was a disaster since Texaco left but successive governments chose to operate a failed model and keep up the lie that TnT was a key energy player while they presided over this make-believe scenario that a small country of 1.3 million people was big in the petroleum dance. We did have a “moment of glory” in the natural gas sector. From the presentation of the Chairman of the Board, it is clear to me that their decision making has gone beyond the closure of the refinery. I am sure that the Prime Minister is waiting for the right timing to announce the new arrangements.

Closing the Petrotrin Refinery is not simply a matter of dividing up two billion dollars by 2,800 and “calling that George”. This decision will haunt us for a long time and deepen the groove of “learnt helplessness” further into our collective psyche.

I marvel at the absence of any sociocultural analyses of the potential impact of this closure. I expected that the closure of Caroni would be used as a case study to not repeat any mistakes. So I expected some analysis of its impact on fence-line communities; to be directed to a report showing how the land use has impacted the communities; to be advised how the absence of Caroni has impacted small business, maxi drivers, schools, sports fields etc. Such reports would have made me think that we are learning from past experiences and ensuring that we do not repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Instead the population is left waiting for the next round of announcements and workers don’t even have a worked example of what their severance package would look like. More importantly, 3,500 families go to bed every night thinking about their next move but not being able to plan anything because they simply do not know how or where to begin.

My deep concern is the impact of the closure of Petrotrin the on our human capital. This is a human development issue which if not addressed positively, will spell the continuation of our poor work habits and the lack of a shared vision of our future self. No matter how this dice is rolled, we’re in for hard times and the government will not have the money to sprinkle on the rough seas.

UWI professor Dr. Roger Hosein said: “We are all to blame, as after 3.7 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent between 2007 and 2018, we are basically back to 2007 GDP”. I disagree with Dr. Hosein and place the blame squarely at the feet of our politicians, both PNM and UNC derivatives. They have both facilitated unsustainable governance structures; pretended that corruption did not occur under their watch and kicked the problems down the road. The chickens have now come home to roost and it falls to the current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley to provide the inspired leadership that is needed to help us change our behaviours.

The late Andrew Carnegie said: “Take away my people, but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors … Take away my factories, but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory.” Well, The Man From Mason Hall now has a monumental task on his hands. His success and our success or failure is inextricably bound. For him to begin to solve this problem he must be accountable to the entire nation for the decisions which have been made about Petrotrin. For him to make the right decision he must demonstrate an ability to be collaborative and transparent. Mr. Prime Minister … may you be haunted by the notions of accountability, collaboration and transparency as we cure this “Dutch Disease” once and for all. That’s the job you applied for, so just do it!

 

 

Petrotrin – A Sociocultural Fiasco …

glass half fullI’m a “glass half full” kind of person, which is why I see the Petrotrin closure as an opportunity for inspired leadership on one hand, and the transformation of our people on the other. Leadership and transformation both require a willingness to change the way we see things. The behaviourists talk about changing our mental models, but before we change those mental models we have to engage in a deep conversation about how and why we need to change. And this is where my “glass half full” notion becomes fragile and even smashes to smithereens. All I see before me is confrontation … one-upmanship … winners [those who think they are] and  losers [many who know they are]. This is too important a decision for fragile egos to prevail. It requires inspirational leadership and communication. Businesses go “belly-up” every day but what makes a difference is the capacity of the people involved to see the opportunity in the crisis, and their willingness to roll around in the mud and come out with clear action plans which will be honoured by gentlemen.

The closure of Petrotrin goes way beyond the disappearance of the flare which has brightened the skyline for more than 75 years. The closure will see the darkening of more than 35 fence line communities which thrived because of the business generated by employees at the Refinery. Gasparillo, Marabella, Plaisance Park, Claxton Bay will change because the refinery no long exists. The delivery of medical services to 20,000 persons annually will also change. The positive outcomes derived from the company’s support for sport and culture will change if not disappear. These are not hard economic arguments but sociocultural considerations.  Indeed; the loss of activity in the area will cause loss of business to the area – from fruit and snack vendors to stores and gas stations – all will be affected. These business owners might go from contributing to the economy, to being a drain on it. The loss of healthcare might financially finish off some families, who also might end up having to rely on government handouts.

From a Leadership viewpoint, we will see the extent to which this Rowley led administration can use this as an opportunity to change governance structures at state enterprises. We will see if there is the capacity to transform the public service. We will see if a model emerges which can make WASA into a productive enterprise. This situation has been played out before – the loss of the sugar cane industry which is thriving in other parts of the world (not just for sugar, but alcohol as fuel and other products).  If none of these happen then it will be fair to conclude that another opportunity for transformation has been squandered and perhaps the leadership capacity just does not exist.

So, the jury will be out for some time with regard to leadership but with regard to communications, the murkiness in the environment confirms to me that it is a textbook example of how “not” to handle communication of a major decision. In today’s mediated communications world, leaders have a responsibility to shape their narrative by telling their story. The story of the closure of the refinery has not been told and if anything has raised a level of mistrust which will take a long time to change.

What we are seeing is an “old power” approach in which the Prime Minister and a select few hoard resources like a dam holding back water, flooding some areas to destruction, while causing drought elsewhere. What is actually needed is a new power approach which is “open, participatory and distributed”, the way rain and rivers distribute water in a forest, so everything grows and thrives. Countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Norway are successfully doing this, so this is not a pie-in-the-sky idea.

The big question remains: Is the T&T leadership grown-up enough to do this, and are the T&T citizens responsible enough to handle the resources?

Mr. PM … Be a Builder not a Destroyer!

In the lead-up to the 2015 general elections, the then Leader of the Opposition “went to bed” with the Trade Union Movement and they birthed an agreement. Post 2015, the now Prime Minister has crept away from his partners and abandoned the product of that union. Today, he is in essence saying: “If you want the child, then put down your money.”

Trinidad & Tobago has abandoned Coffee, Cocoa, Sugar, Citrus, Coconut and now Oil Refining. The late Walton James, former Managing Director of Trintoc et al must be turning in their graves, because when they approached the late Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams to purchase Texaco, this was not the outcome they expected. They may have dreamed of a T&T where we are operating a fully integrated energy sector, spanning exploration, production and marketing. The several refinery upgrades have all been in an attempt to strengthen the refining sector but the politics keeps getting in the way, because we systematically destroy what each previous government administration does, then populate the space with square pegs. The Union is not blameless because they have taken the position of, “We too, deserve to live ‘high off the hog.’” The twin problem of puerile politics and lack of productivity is finally on our doorsteps. We can see it as an opportunity to fix both, but that requires leadership with a macro or is it “maco” vision.

Instead, Prime Minister Rowley has continued the negative messaging that we cannot build and grow, we can only destroy. Except for the Pt. Lisas Estate, the slash and burn philosophy continues. This murky Petrotrin decision smacks of either lack of clarity of the intended outcome, ineffective communications or the need to reward favoured supporters. Here was an opportunity to hammer out an arrangement with the Trade Union for the successful operation of the Refinery. There is no shortage of “young” retirees with the knowledge to change the culture of Petrotrin, but we continue to judge capacity on the basis of political leanings. If we are able to collaborate with the most ferocious trade union to take the journey toward culture change, we can change the entire country. If high productivity and innovation became the core values at Petrotrin under a collaboration with the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union leadership, all other unions would follow and indeed, the entire society.

This lack of productivity and wastage is not confined to Petrotrin and the State sector but is just as prevalent in the private sector which continues to survive and not thrive. What is needed is a leader who can inspire us to strive towards a higher ideal, instead what we continue to be told is that we have failed, while what is needed is the inspiration for us to rise from failure and strive for a higher standard.

We learned the plantation model well and it is time to unlearn it. We are reviving the cocoa industry, but it is still on the basis of exporting the raw product, why couldn’t we invest in chocolate manufacturing on a global scale so that the sector is really stimulated. Doesn’t anyone in TT dream of this?

We abandoned Caroni, but just a 90-minute flight away, the sugar estates in Guadeloupe continue to thrive and their several rum distilleries conduct daily tours teaching the world how to assess a good quality rum. Can we not envision this for ourselves?

We abandoned coffee and there is an unprecedented revival in the coffee industry.  For each example I have used we made the wrong decision.

Once again, we have taken the easy way out. Shut it down, sell it off and send the message that our citizens should continue to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. Maybe there can be a make-up of the busted relationship between the Prime Minister and the Labour Movement. Such a make-up could birth a new age of productivity and national pride in Trinidad and Tobago. The excitement of such a possibility  would leave me feeling that my cohort inspired our nation to be doers as well as dreamers!

 

TTT: A Critique

Ayrid Chandler

ttt.png

Having been tagged in a couple posts, I’m taking a break from vacation to join the dialogue on the newly released logo for TTT.

Disclaimer: The thoughts written below are purely my opinion as a graphic designer, based on a 4 year B.F.A. in Graphic Design education and a following 6 years of graphic design experience. 

http://www.looptt.com/content/new-positive-ttt-launched

So firstly, why the logo change?

I’m going to speculate that they maybe no longer owned the rights to the original design, or they wanted to part from the past and start a new chapter of TTT, look and all. I am also going to speculate that someone wanted the logo to be all caps since it is written TTT but the old logo was in lowercase. (Pure speculation). Lots of corporate clients have told me that lowercase means childish and is not taken seriously. *kanye shrug* I’m assuming that they wanted to…

View original post 1,011 more words