Tag Archives: leadership

Trinkets of Deceit

“Do not put your faith in such trinkets of deceit!”

Dracula – Bram Stoker

I think I have covered my youthful ambition to be a history teacher before. I may even have admitted that I really wanted to be a University lecturer but was trying not to show off. As I sit here, surrounded by chaos, I reflect that if I had become a lecturer, this would be a perfectly acceptable way to organise my workspace.

I think it’s high time that someone wrote a book on marketing and the Nazi party. This thought first came to mind when I saw a young man strutting up and down in a  military collectors’ shop admiring his reflection in a display case as he held a Nazi dagger at his hip.

This was, to be accurate, my third thought. The first was that I’d like to slap some sense into him and the second was that he needed a psychiatrist.

The Romans knew a bit about pageantry and psychology, with their Triumphs and circuses. Napoleon knew some too – “You call these medals and ribbons baubles; well it is with such baubles that men are led.”

The Nazis, with their reliance on mythology, medals and regalia, were just treading an old path, but they did it well. The rest, as they say, is history.

I looked a long time to find a balanced article about it, because people tend to have strong views on the Nazis. It’s tricky, but the lesson I draw from it is that the heraldry of the Nazi party still draws people in.

It’s interesting to draw a parallel between the building of the Nazi Party and the modern marketing industry, and how the techniques of the modern industry were foreshadowed by the Nazis. We’ve had books on leadership that purport to be written by Attila the Hun, Henry V and Jean-Luc Picard, how about  marketing book written in the character of Josef Goebbels? If you can make that popular, you really would be performing marketing at a high level.

Remember, when thinking about the Nazis that Milgram’s experiments proved that the German’s weren’t the only people who would follow orders even though it caused great distress to others The Stanford Prison Experiments not only showed that groups would band together, but pointed the way to later events.

We are not the civilised people that we like to think we are. In fact, when you look at modern politics we may actually be in a worse position as our minds are poisoned by a bombardment of false news.

Just one more example before I go. In 1919 the Allied Powers imposed a damaging and humiliating peace settlement on Germany and the Central Powers. This gave the Germans something to unite against. Alex Ferguson, in making Manchester United one of the most successful teams in British football history, used the same technique. He also used the technique of refusing to speak to the Press because they were all against him.

Does that sound familiar?

Admitting Defeat

I am going to admit defeat. I have been struggling for things to say for a week or more and am now going to admit that I am defeated. There is no point in dressing it up – I have lost my ability to be light, frothy and cheerful.

I have no confidence in the government, who are lurching from one knee-jerk reaction to the next.

I have no confidence in my fellow citizens, who appear to be in the grip of panic-buying hysteria.

I have no confidence in many of the professionals who appear on TV. There have been a few who were worth listening to, but by definition, if they know what they are doing they are generally too busy for TV.

Does this sound bitter and negative? Sorry if that is the case. However, I assure you that it is upbeat and mild compared to the earlier versions that I wrote and discarded in the last few days.

I also think we are in the middle of a grandmother’s railings scenario – they want us to concentrate on washing hands rather than examine their policies.

I have been looking at various information on hand hygiene and flu transmission with a view to making sure I am doing the right things. It seems that hand-washing reduces respiratory infections by 16%. Yes, one sixth. It’s worth doing, but it’s clearly not the entire answer and it’s been diverting attention from other matters.

Now that I’m in the groove I can feel a rant coming on. I’m amazed by some of the things I’ve been reading, and very interested in the way that things are phrased to avoid giving information to casual readers like me.

I did find some concrete information – as a result of a hand hygiene campaign in the NHS a few years ago the use of soap and sanitiser went up and the incidence of infections went down. From that I infer that people weren’t washing their hands properly and patients were becoming ill as a result.

Try this, for more information. It’s illuminating, and frightening. The basic information is that the WHO calculates handwashing rates at 40% and in an American hospital study only 22% washed their hands after seeing a patient (rising to 57% when they knew they were being watched).

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

I used the owl as the header picture because we all need wisdom. And because I don’t have a picture of a Boris Johnson doll with pins in it.