Playing for West Denmark

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Like many others I was saddened by England’s defeat to Germany in the World Cup on Sunday. It was the worst defeat in England’s world cup history, and, like many others, I think a moment or two to analyse the defeat might shed light on why it happened.

Many people’s first reaction would be to sack the coach and get in someone with the tactical vision that we are no doubt now assured Fabio Cappello lacks. But interestingly, Fabio Capello has been successful at every other team he has been at except England. Likewise, Sven Goran Erikson was successful at every club he managed … except England. If you look at all recent England managers, they have all had extremely successful careers .. until they reach England. We could no doubt find another world class manager, who would also fail at the onerous task of managing the national side. So the problem cannot be with the coach.

Perhaps it is with the players. But all the players are from Premiership sides that are extremely successful, both domestically and abroad. These players score goals week in week out for their clubs, but when they put on the England shirt it all seems to dissipate.

I think the problem lies precisely there – the England shirt. When playing for England, players cannot help but be aware that they are playing for England. They become walking talking emblems of national pride and aspiration whilst on the pitch, and feel the beseeching and longing of the England fans in the terraces like a hot sun. Whilst playing for England, they become living tokens of national identity. Perhaps it is here that the problem lies. How else do we explain why players like Rooney, who have probably scored 20 or 30 goals last season, cannot find the back of the net when in the England strip? The answer lies in sports psychology.

In four years there will no doubt be another world class manager heading England up, and a set of world class player wearing the shirt. But I have a horrible feeling that despite all the talent and skill, when they jog onto the pitch and hear 40,000 fans shouting “Come On England” something will happen to their heads akin to the famous English batting collapses in cricket. Call it the weight of national expectation, or the weight of carrying the national banner a few yards further forward in time, the undoes them.

I have suggestion, and it is neuro linguistic programming. I think the England team should have hour long relaxation sessions every evening when away at a tournament, during which they are told they play for West Denmark. The England coaching squad should institutionally start referring to the team as West Denmark, and the players should become conditioned into believing that this is the team they are playing for, until the fact that they playing for West Denmark becomes the unquestionable neuro-lingustic fabric of reality.

Perhaps then when they step onto the pitch, they will feel a different weight of expectation. Perhaps they will feel free to express their talent and create goals, rather than labour under the weight of a concept – playing for England – that is so weighted down with expectation and previous disappointment that each player ends up surrendering to it.

If football was swimming, then the England strip, with its three lions,  would be a very heavy item of swimwear that end up dragging even the most talented swimmers under the waters surface. Playing for England is like living in a Grade 1 listed building that you are never allowed to redecorate, until eventually the weight of the place’s 400 year old wallpaper and carpets drags you under. The concept of playing for England is psychically stale, heavy and difficult for talented sportspeople to do. The best thing to do with the whole concept of playing for England is chuck it in the skip.

Play for West Denmark, and let a world class manager and world class players make the goals flow!

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The Animals and Me

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I am having a lot of trouble with animals at the moment.
 
We have a cat called Marly. She used to be a relatively calm and stable cat, but recently she has taken to clawing at my feet when I walk past her, and putting her teeth on my skin any time I get close. It is mysterious to me why a cat that was once so tame has taken such a disliking to me.
 
To make matters worse, on my way to work this morning a dog tried to attack me. Admittedly it was on a leash, and the owner immediately stopped it from getting near me, but the look of venom in its eyes as it was going for me was enough to put the frighteners into anyone.
 
I often wonder why I get so much grief off animals. Perhaps they are jealous of me, and the fact that I have an opposable thumb. Perhaps some animals are dependent upon me, and because of their beastly nature can only exhibit that dependency by biting and scratching. Perhaps it is just that they are not human, but a lower form of life, that is feral, amoral, and beneath standards of behaviour you would expect from polite society.
 
I envisage a day when we send our cats to the the cattery and I have no more animals in my life. Would you like one of them? We have three. Any assistance you can personally offer in deanimalising me would be gratefully appreciated. Perhaps when all the animals are gone I will have some peace of mind, and will be able to enjoy the company of others without baleful interjections and submoral attacks from our aminal companions in society.
 
I have a horrible feeling I would get a lot further without animals stymying my progress every night. Let the dawn of an animal free existence break!

Media Management

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What kind of management styles is the media taking on a industry wide level? Before 2004, lines of communication in the media were clear and delineated, with individuals like Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg leading the helm, with others such as David Frost and David Dimbleby providing a second line of leadership. This leadership structure seems to have disappeared, and replaced instead by a mixture of democratic management styles, whereby everything needs to be agreed by the majority, with the consequence that decision making is slowed down and the need for a consensus may avoid taking the best decision for the media; and laissez faire leadership, where there is very little communication between companies, there is a general lack of focus and sense of direction, leading to a poor coprorate image. Laissez faire management styles are not real management at all as they involve avoiding the real duties of management, duties which may involve denying the pleasure principle of a large number of people and instead focusing on the less popular reality principle and serving the best interests of the industry. The best interests of the industry may not necessarily be what the large majority of people want to do, and it requires managers who have the ability to sternly make unpopular decision in the best interests of the group – managers such as these are few and far between in the media.

I suspect that these styles of management occurred in the media due to a sense that there were tens of millions of people demanding entertainment from the media, whose thirst for pleasure had to be slaked, and no one indivual felt strong enough to look that mass of humanity in the eye and deny them their entertainment. Perhaps media managers could be reminded of the 90-9-1 rule, and could have intelligently dissected the large mass of people and found the (possibly only four or five) individuals that all the rest were looking to. Certainly I myself have no problem dealing with large groups of people and see no reason why the media should differ.

My management style is more autocratic, which has the advantage that it projects the image of a confident, well run organisation. Having been the subject of apotheosis at various points in my life I can often direct people within my organisation using their deference to and respect of my personality. I have interests in economics, social media (on which I have written a book), geopolitics and celebrity, and debate these subjects regularly online. If I were in charge of the media, it would be a literate, erudite, cultured place. The media being run by Mark Thompson and people like him seems to me to be a shambolic place with poor rationales for its behaviour and judgements, which somehow wants something for the media which sells it short and does not fulfil the potential I see in it, rather like a cinematic genius earning a living as a projectionist in an XXX movie theatre.

There is a management idea that became popular in the 1990’s, which works by recognising that formation of the business policy and the business rasion d’etre is one of the main functions of management. It is the mission statement. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. It is the source of inspiration and guide for future action for an organisation. It is important for organisations to put a good deal of thought into their mission statement, as it defines their goals and values.

What would the media say their mission statement is? Knowing the jaded iconoclasts that have pervaded society since 2004, one can hardly imagine a current media mission statement that doesn’t involve a reference to damning someone or masturbating. In its current state, the media are like a pothole in the surface of wider society, incapable of making public statements or accepting them from other organisations.

I’m not certain what my mission statement is. I work in IT and have studied software engineering, and so am aware of a number of manegement strategies for controlling projects and formulating plans of action, such as PRINCE2, which I would almost certainly apply in some watered down form.

An organisation can be defined as a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, controls its own performance, and has a boundary separating it from its environment (don’t we know it – we are not animals). With the definition of an organisation comes organisation theory, part of which studies how the organisation achieves its goals as defined by the mission statement. In many if not most organisations, leaders are employed to influence the organisation towards achieveing its goals.

The media needs leaders who have authority and who can make unpopular decision that are in the best interests of the organisation. The media needs a mission statement that ‘bombs it up to the Stone Age’, and sets itself some semi-professional standards relating to the service it provides. It needs to have institutional authority, which cannot be gained by a basis in immoral motivation or inethical treatment of others.

It is quite possible that if wider society understood what the media actually should be offering them by way of information, education and entertainemnt, they would no longer be quite so easily frothed up into a sort of jaded hysteria over what they are currently getting.

Paywalls

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I have noticed the the Times newspaper has now put up a paywall, meaning that articles cannot be read on it without being paid for.  I managed to gain access nontheless thanks to my advanced web skills – and without breaking the law – but I will not mention how for fear of embarassing the Times’ web programmers.
 
I think it is interesting that the media have chosen to do this. It certainly goes against the spirit of the World Wide Web, which was conceived as free by its inventor, Tim Berners Lee. That the media have chosen this business model perhaps suggests that revenues are falling in the Internet age and new ways of generating income are required.
 
I don’t think it was a necessary move. The media has an at best passing relationship to the reality of things as they occur, and it is all too easy for professional journalists who work in the media everyday to lose sight of the vocation of journalism and treat the media gestalt instead as a national text, to be sprinked with literary devices. Speaking as someone who has heard all manner of stories over the past five years I think it is fair to say that the media masticates, but doesn’t report on, much more than it reports on, to the point where any relatively intelligent switched on person would be forgiven for thinking the narrative of the national media a fairy tale, told to keep those of us lucky enough to be ignorant of the truth under the impression that the world is a stable and likeable place where forward progress is always happening.
 
Charging for web access is recidivist, a signal that the media has defiantly rebelled against newer models of media in the Information Age. Perhaps this was done solely because Rupert Murdoch cannot get his head around them. A younger world powerful media figure might have suggested that the Information Age is drawing us closer to a time where everything – films, music, and yes, even news – has to be free, and a way simply has to be found of making money from this. Mariah Carey included audio adverts on her last CD in the anticipation that it would be illegally shared on MP3 much more than it was bought in the stores. She understands that just because people are not paying for it does not mean that their attention to it cannot be sold for money. Commercial radio stations are to all intents and purposes free and yet make a profit year on year.
 
Perhaps the media has set up these paywalls to patch up the broken infrastructure of their industry. There is something about the media these days, when I look at it, which seems like all the journalists and media professionals I see are playing a character of a journalist rather than actually doing the job of one. The media reminds me somewhat of that famous painting, C’est ne pas un pipe.  Certainly, public figures I have spoken to report the media as sometimes impossible to talk to. That is certainly my experience.

He won’t like me saying this, but perhaps it is time for Rupert to release his death grip on capitalism and let someone else take over making decisions like this.

Welcome

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Hi,

Welcome to my blog. I decided to do this blog because twitter isn;t really long enough to cope with my random thoughts about various subjects. I did have another blog, abstract superclass, but that fell into disuse. Hopefully I will be able to keep up work on this one.

xx