Around 1993 I became responsible for Subsidy Management at ABN AMRO. The whole thing started when the bank contracted a specialized company called PNO. I was asked to coordinate their activities in the Bank.
First you have to write a proposal (estimate time (including advisor).
When you get a subsidy you have to spend time reporting (estimate time).
The sum of both multiplied by the price per hour result in the costs.
Multiply the sum of subsidy by the chance you get the subsidy. A simple way to do that is to estimate the amount of contenders. This gives you a simple statistical expectation.
If the Estimated sum is lower than the costs don’t spend your time and try to get money in a different way. In general when you are a small company stay out of subsidies.
If you really want to become rich start a company like PNO (Pecunia Non Olet, Money Does Not Stink).
When I met them I soon found out that I was there when the company was created. They started their activities at the same place (Hengelo) and the same building as the company of a friend of mine. This company (Utopics) developed the expert-system they use to track subsidy opportunities.
Until 1993 I did not realize that it was possible to acquire a huge amount of money when you play the game the right way.
The Subsidy Game is played the right way when you combine two things. You have to align your strategy and related projects with the vision of government and you have to create the right level of contacts.
When the local or international government defines a policy they look for instruments to support this policy. One of the instruments they use is subsidies. They pay you to do what they want you to do.
When you want to get a lot of money you have to align your policy with the policy of the government.
It is very important to understand that aligning your policy is a virtual act. You have to show that the policy is written down on paper. If you are clever you don’t have to adjust your plans. In reality you play the same game government is playing. They also act very differently at the inside.
They play the Game of Politics. The game of politics is a combination between the Unity (Plan, Model) and the Social (Emotions, Network) World-View. The game is about persuading people to accept a model or plan or asking an opinion about a plan.
The simple trick is to relate all the projects you are doing to the policies of the Government and translate the project-plan into a proposal for subsidy.
The next step is much more important. You have to influence the network of decision makers. I hope you are not a naive person who believes in an objective government.
Everybody in government can be influenced to do what you want. The only thing that counts is the price you have to pay. Please understand that bribing is possible but this is a very stupid way to get influence because it only influences one person.
To get an optimal result you have become an “important person” in the network of decision makers itself.
To do this you have practice the art of Public Relations (PR). When you are practicing PR you have to know WHO is WHO, visit meetings and parties and give something to receive something.
When the Subsidy-project grew I became involved in PR at a large scale. PR is really fun. You talk a lot, travel a lot, you eat (and drink) a lot and sometimes you make a beautiful deal.
Soon I found out that the power of the Dutch Government was gone. The power was moved to Brussels. I made a proposal the create a special lobby-office in Brussels and to my surprise top-management agreed.
This started a new level of sophisticated manipulation. Getting things done in Brussels is much more difficult that getting things done in the Hague.
Brussels can be compared with Washington and the European Union acts the same as the USA. Many things are decided behind close doors and the most important influencers are the rich companies.
To get some instant experience I visited a few lobby offices and talked with the managers to find out how they were doing “it”.
My most spectacular experience was with IBM. IBM seemed to me the perfect lobby machine. The manager of the Lobby Office was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of IBM and he also had the power to act.
Influencing EG Policy was a very important issue at IBM. You have to understand that the EG is deciding about many standards and the standards have to be built in the products of IBM.
When I got acquainted with the practices of Brussels I discovered many “bribing patterns”. Later they were also detected and many scandals appeared. Yes, High Level Officials of the EG asked for money and they were also payed.
When you are not a high level player in the Subsidy Business I advice you to make use of an advisor. Even if you use an advisor the changes are low. Because of the low changes you are able to make a simple calculation to find out if subsidies are something you have pursue.
Will McWhinney defined six games. In the previous blogs I told you about the Game of Life and the Analytical Game. In this blog I want to tell you about a very special game called the Game of Politics.
The game of Politics is a conflict between the worldviews Unity and Social. Unity is the world of Norms and Social is the world of Values.
Many people consider the Game of Politics a “dirty” game. They don’t like politics at all.
It is a dirty game because many people that call themselves politicians are formulating and enforces rules (by the Analytical Game) but don’t apply the rules. They are not consistent.
It is not necessary to be consistent because everybody learns and makes mistakes but the “bad” politicians don’t admit their mistakes.
When they don’t admit their mistakes or deliberately misuse the rules they enforce, they are making use of the System for their own benefit. They want to gain or increase their power and/or their wealth.
When you want to increase your power you believe that your current power is not sufficient to protect your self. You are afraid. Although they never will admit this fear is the main driver of politicians that misuse the system.
When the fear becomes unbearable they develop an extreme position and focus on one worldview. If they do this they are not playing a game anymore. They are focused on one worldview (Unity) and develop a tendency that psychiatrist call Paranoid.
Many powerful leaders in history fell into the trap of fear to loose their power and created very powerful paranoid systems. Famous examples in recent history are of course Hitler and Stalin. When paranoid leaders enforce rules they become opportunistic. They don’t mind if the people believe they are inconsistent or “evil”. Every act is motivated by the impulsive reaction to a possible threat and every threat is part of a big conspiracy.
Let’s get back to the Game of Politics.
The Social worldview is the worldview of emotions. Emotions help you to evaluate attracting and repulsive forces. We show our emotions with our “body-language” and the tonality of the sounds we produce.
The Game of Politics is a game where we express our feelings directly in concepts. Our feeling evaluates so we could also say that the Game of Politics evaluates concepts and (the other way around) attracts or repels us when concepts are stated. We give our opinion.
The Game of Politics is very dependent on the Emotions.
The Emotions are a “very old part” of the Human. This part “does not understand” rational concepts.
The Emotions are “open” to manipulation when we are in a state a trance. We get into a state of trance when we are focused. This happens when we are looking at TV or a Movie or Driving a Car.
One of the most simple techniques to move a person into a trance-state is to “surprise” a person. We surprise a person when we do something the Expectation ( our Thinking) is not expecting. Surprise is the basis of hypnosis.
Many powerful politicians knew how to manage the Emotions. They are not managed by words. They are managed by the way the words sound and the body-language of the person who speaks the words.
The emotions are strongly managed by collective contexts. When people are united in a stadium the emotions connect. When pressure is used the personal fields of the humans unite into one collective field. They become one entity, a crowd.
When I started to work in 1976 I never heard of something called HRM. My boss hired me.
He discussed my salary and gave me the assignments.
The salary of my colleagues was a secret. I also did not know why my salary was raised. It just happened.
Three years later I was promoted to manager (group leader). I was very surprised this happened.
My new manager (called a section leader) handed me the files of my employees. I had to take care of them.
They contained many secret documents about what the former managers thought about the employee. At that time the managers talked about the employees in complete secrecy.
We, the New Managers, did not like that. We opened up the secret files, destroyed the “not-objective” data, standardized the data and put the data in a Database later called a HRM-System.
Suddenly I was the one who was responsible for hiring and firing. Every group-leader was different. I was always very open to my employees. We worked as a team to create and maintain software-systems.
I loved to program and design and I never felt the need to stop this. Managing my group was simple. It took about 1 day a week. In this day I had to attend meetings with other managers.
Other group-leaders (mostly much older) were spending all of their time managing their group. I soon found out that they were really managed by their group. They were unable to resist the informal power of some of their employees. When the new salaries were fixed some of them got a lot of money. This became known in my group and I got into trouble.
Why is he paid more than I am paid? He is really doing nothing!
I went to talk with my colleague but he did not want to talk. I talked with my section-leader and I found out that my colleague was his personal friend. He “covered his ass“.
At that time there was a big difference between an employee and a manager. When you became a Manager you became part of an Elite with its own Privileges and Culture. The most important Rule was that people of this Elite always covered the ass of the other members. We, the New Managers, did not like that and we started to destroy the Old Management Culture.
The other group-leaders experienced the same situation. We started to talk about this issue at our Section-meeting. After many discussions we went to talk one level higher (the director). The end result of all our actions was a revolution. We removed all the old powers and took over.
This also happened when I was a student. I was part of the baby-boom-generation that reorganized society. We were the revolutionaries that wanted to create a better society based on the principles of the new age of Aquarius.
Now almost 30 years later my old colleagues and I have created a System that is blocking everything they stood for. Just like my section-leader they want to stay in power.
The big difference between 30 years ago and now is that the New Revolutionaries have to change a (Software) System. It is impossible to detect the Human Cause of all Evil.
We, the Baby-Boom Managers have standardized almost everything. The Systems have taken over Control and the Sad Thing is that almost nobody knows what the Systems are really doing. They live a Life of their Own.
It is almost impossible to reach consencus because many many specialized managers are involved and they all defend their own territory. The Sad Thing is that almost nobody knows what their Territory really is about.
Everything is Magically connected to Everything Else by the PatchWork of Overlapping Systems. A Problem in One Area suddenly comes back in a completely different Area.
The only way to accomplish something is to play the Game of Politics. To play the Game of Politics you need to make friends and you have to stay in the right coalition.
To do this you sometimes have to abandon your friends to reach the Goal. The effect is that nobody trusts nobody anymore or friends are covering the Ass of their friends. The effect is that many incidents are covered up. The effect of the cover up is that many people don’t know what is really happening or (worse) many people know what is happening but discuss the issues in a secret place.
The effect of this is that many people are not working at all. They are gossiping all the time. The effect is a loss of productivity and the only Solution we can think of is to implement more Systems.
The most important effect is a Change of Focus. The focus is directed inside the Company and not outside the Company. Outside the Company somebody is providing the money to play the Game. He or She is called the Customer.
The Systems have transformed the Customer into a Standardized Object stored into a Computer.
The Systems have completely Blocked the View on the most important Asset of a Company, the Human.
We developed a system that wanted to treat Everybody the Same Way.
How did we do that?
Step 1: Classify what everybody is doing (programming, designing, project-management …).
Question: When somebody is capable of everything (a talent) what do you do?
Answer: Always start with the lowest classification in this way people believe work is moving Up.
Step 2: Define a Career Path.
Step 2.1. Define Low (junior), Normal and High (senior). Take care that this is a normal distribution. If you do that people keep the believe that a Senior is better than a Junior!
Step 2.2. Define importance. A designer is more important than a programmer. Manager is more important than designer.
Question: Why is a something more important than something else?
Answer: Something is more important when we pay a higher salary. If we do that people start to believe that money is the most important motivator.
Effect: Everybody wants to become a manager because a manager is the best! The negative effect is that a manager does not like the employees in his department who are better. They are his competitors.
Step 3: Define a test to prove you are allowed to move to the next level.
Question: What defines a talented programmer?
Answer: He has finished his training.
Effect: Employees have to spend a lot of time to pass exams. Training becomes more important than experience. People start to act out of the book.
Step 4: Create specialized departments (Training, Security, Data Management, ..).
To save money we started to train people outside the company. The teachers did not have any experience. They knew what was written in the books that were written by people that did not have any experience in the field they were teaching.
Later the teachers changed into consultants and started to tell the employees and the managers how to do it. Doing the trick is easy. Inventing new tricks and implementing the new tricks becomes very difficult. You have to convince many managers.
Effect: Innovation is tricky bussiness. You have to take a risk and when you fail you are out of the carreer-race. Old approaches are implemented with a different name.
Step 5: Create departments that are testing if the employees are doing what the trainers told them to do (Quality Management). When they don’t do what the trainers told them to do we just don’t promote them.
Everybody is Equal.
I hope you see what I am trying to show you. By treating everybody the Same Way we finally have created the Same People.
The top (talent) and the bottom (sick, problems at home …) are gone.
We have Equalized the Population.
The steps 1 to 5 are not the only steps. The System has improved itself all the time.
Before the division employees took care of other employees. We have designed a special approach to take care of the sick and other causalities. This has given them a negative status.
The effect is that some of them deteriorate and others are afraid to tell what the matter is. They go on when they are sick or they ignore the problems at home.
The effect is more problems at home and/or stress-related diseases (Burn-Out).
We have divided managers in groups. Some of them manage resources (!) other use the resources.
The effect is the loss of the team-mentality.
We have divided resources into internal and external resources. We hire them from a specialized company.
The effect is a loss of company-pride a higher level of the team-mentality.
We have automated almost everything to speed up efficiency. The effect is that we have to know the number (the unique identifier) to know about people. We are unable to enter unique information about a person. They are standardized on a higher level.
We have created a special department called HRM. They are managed top-down.
The effect is that at every level we are unable to create a unique solution for a unique situation.
What To Do?
Work in teams.
Start to talk with the employees again.
Be honest and open.
When you feel somebody is special give him a special treatment. Explain this to everybody.
Don’t be afraid to take responsibility for what you have done. Admit mistakes.
Don’t store everything in a database. Forgetting something is a positive thing. It makes is possible to start all over again.
Don’t specialize too much. Get rid of all the departments that are too far away from your primary process, servicing the customer.
Rotate. Don’t keep a person too long in a specialized job. Give experienced people a change to teach or to specialize but never keep them in this job for long.
Stop politics. Never allow that people are playing games with people. Fire people who are playing dirty games.
Surprise people. Don’t plan careers. Give everybody the idea that everything is possible.
Stop the gossiping. Give everybody a change to tell what they don’t like and listen.
Demote. When somebody is incapable to do his job give him the job he is capable of and give him the salary of the job. This stops the expectation that everything always has to move up. When somebody gets into trouble when he is demoted make an exception.
Give employees a chance and the time to help other employees.
Don’t hire too much people outside your company. Give priority to teach your own employees to learn the trick of the outside specialists.
Give your own people the time and the tools to innovate.
Hire outside specialists to do the things that are already stable and repeatable or better automate these activities. They are most of the time very boring. This is a very usefull indication to use IT.