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March 02, 2008


John East

Brown is a first class example of someone who has reached one level too high. Many (not me) would say that he was OK as Chancellor but is now floundering as PM.

Good luck, by the way, with your home job. I did the same 7 years ago, and I'm now as happy as a pig in.....

Mark Harrison


I'm not normally someone who would defend Gordon Brown, but have you READ the speech from which you are selectively quoting?

"... I want our children and their children to say that in the first decades of the 21st century there lived a generation that built a Britain, where the talent you had mattered more than the title you held.

Imagine if together we build a Britain where counts is not how high up you start, but how high you can reach.

A Britain where every parent of every child born today can watch them as they sleep and dare to believe that nothing is beyond them realising their potential..."

To me that reads a lot more like the kind of things you are arguing for.

I agree wholeheartedly that NL is overly managerialist, but I fear that, on this one, you're filtering everything they say through a managerialist-coloured set of glasses.

Oh, and I did trade off then "hierarchy points" for "working from home" after my first child was born. I could be a notch or two higher on the greasy pole, but absolutely made the right decision.

It's a shame to see the good points you are making hidden in anti-NL rhetoric that may, for once, not entirely be justified.


John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, on half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Nice piece, Chris - do you mind if I steal it for Tuesday? H/T of course.

tom s.

On your clarification, you may want to look at a piece from the Wall St Journal about Leonard Bernstein and the dangers of "importantitis", or trying too hard to do something self-consciously important. Quoted in 3 Quarks Daily here: http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2008/02/importantitis.html

'Time and again he dove head first into grandiose-sounding projects, then emerged from the depths clutching such pretentious pieces of musical costume jewelry as the "Kaddish" Symphony and "A Quiet Place." In the end he dried up almost completely, longing to make Great Big Musical Statements -- he actually wanted to write a Holocaust opera -- but incapable of producing so much as a single memorable song."

The Tory Troll

I think Alan Watt put it best:


Laban Tall

Thomas Hardy describes a christening party in 'The Three Strangers' :

"Absolute confidence in each other’s good opinion begat perfect ease, while the finishing stroke of manner, amounting to a truly princely serenity, was lent to the majority by the absence of any expression or trait denoting that they wished to get on in the world, enlarge their minds, or do any eclipsing thing whatever — which nowadays so generally nips the bloom and bonhomie of all except the two extremes of the social scale."


If a man may quote his wife "Careers are over-rated".


On this occasion Chris I think you've missed the target and the wider interpretation of his comments is exactly what I would hope to hear from a labour prime-minister.

Don't fret. On current record another better opportunity will be along shortly

James Schneider

Chris, its alright for you. I assume that you made quite a lot of money (enough to be comfortable) and are in the privileged position of being about to follow JSM's advice. I take your point philosophically but ambition is often a necessity (at least in the short to medium term) to facilitate greater future freedom.

Mike Woodhouse

As it happens, I'm a pretty good programmer (they tell me) and stepped out of management (at which I did not particularly excel) about 12 years ago, which was nice. I seem to have survived, although home-working remains a nice-to-have still.

"We might as well promote the duffer instead."

Sign of bad management right there. The correct approach is to sack the duffer and hire a great manager, which won't happen because the management is already bad. I think I've had maybe three really great managers in thirty years. Hmmm. Make that two.


People are always promoted beyond their abilities, apart from a very few. And unfortunately those few end up getting big-headed and arrogant, think they can walk on water and end up dropping a real clanger. Lord Browne of BP springs to mind... And GB one level too high? No I think several. As I've argued before he has no understanding of Economics or Markets


I can't believe noone mentioned this, but this is just a rehash of the Peter Principle. One of the most important books ever written. "Everybody rises to their level of incompetence".


reson - yes agree completely on the Peter Principle. the only book I've read that explained the reality of the various organisations I've worked in over the years.

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