It’s a shame Tim Blair (blog cactus at present) is still successfully ignoring the amazing Margo Kingston. Yesterday’s Web Diary piece was a monumental achievement in journalistic vacuity even by her stellar standards. Someone apparently gave Margo one of those “can do” American management books that was being thrown out with all the other old rubbish. This one was written in 1991 by some dork named William Bridges and is called “Managing transitions – making the most of change”. Margo took the opportunity to apply Bridges’s profound insights to the “transition” she hopes Simon Crean can manage from chronic whinger and loser to Labor’s new messiah.
Here’s a sample of Bridges’ wisdom:
“Psychological transition depends on letting go of the old reality and the old identity you had before the change took place,” Bridges says. Once people in the group have let go, they and the organisation go into a NEUTRAL ZONE, “the no man’s land between the old reality and the new…a time when the old way is gone and the new doesn’t feel comfortable yet.” …
“It is natural to feel somewhat frightened and confused in this no-man’s land. As the old patterns die in their minds and the new ones begin to take shape, people are assailed by self-doubt and misgivings about their leaders. Ambiguity increases, and so does the longing for answers. This is why people in the neutral zone are so prone to follow anyone who seems to know where he or she is going – which unfortunately includes troublemakers and people who are heading toward the exit.” …
“It is during the gap between the old and the new that the organisation’s systems of immunity are weak enough to let truly creative solutions emerge unhampered. Only when the old way of seeing things disappears are habit patterns broken, and a new way will emerge.”
You can see where Margo’s going with this inane psychobabble: over the cliff with Simon in the hope that her hero Loopy Latham can salvage something after the inevitable trainwreck, taking Margo with him as Opposition Press Secretary in place of the equally inept Vivian Schenker.
You can also see why Latham is bound to be impressed by Margo’s laser-like political insights. Here are a couple of her suggestions to help Simon with his “transition”, apparently drawn from her reading of Bridges’ book:
He needs to find a metaphor for the journey Labor is embarking on. Any ideas?
How about Up Shit Creek With a Teaspoon For a Paddle?
He could consider taking party members and families on a retreat, to, in the words of Bridges, “try to rebuild a sense of identification with the group and connectedness with one another”.
Presumably Margo means one of those executive retreats that dotcom management teams used to go on before they all went broke, where fabulously well-paid consultants teach obese corporate executives to climb assault walls and slide down flying foxes from a great height to build “trust” in the “team”. With a bit of luck one of Simon’s team will take the only sane option and grease the handle of the flying fox just before he gets on.
Margo’s concluding paragraph is an especially impressive achievement in meaningless verbiage:
To me, Crean’s task is to build solid, substantial foundations for a Labor win, if not at this election, then the one after. To do that, he needs to instil confidence among the party’s MPs that they’re moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel, pride that their cause is just, and energy to work hard, together, in the common cause. If he does that, he’ll have proved he’s a great leader.
Someone should remind Margo that the preferred ALP metaphor is “light on the hill”. I’ve always suspected that this is because Ben Chifley, as an old engine driver, knew that the light at the end of the tunnel is usually a freight train about to run you down.
PS – Gummo Trotsky reminds me that, according to his records, he is now the sole contestant remaining in the “How long can Tim Blair resist mentioning Margo” contest. My own records are submerged somewhere in the zipped version of the old blog that Mark Gallagher recently emailed to me (which I’ll get around to importing one of these days). If anyone else claims still to be in the running, they’d better speak up in the next couple of days otherwise I’m going to declare Gummo the winner.