Sunday, January 09, 2005

On our own (World Bank) governance: About the board and the staff

Not long ago in a personnel committee I was reminded (I am not sure why) of the saying about why grandfathers and grandchildren get along so well: they have a common enemy!

But then again I must confess that I have been through some experiences that point to the existence of a big divide, Mr. Chairman. (Jim Wolfensohn) On some occasions when I have been speaking with staff members who were unaware that I belonged to the board, when they found out, some of them have actually panicked, trembled—and that to me is not a very healthy relation. What does the staff think of us? I know that I think very highly of them, generally, and I know I treat them all with respect but … do we all? Or is somebody setting us up?

And while we are on the subject, when are we going to end the tradition of praising one another so much that we dilute the traditional meaning of praise? Colleagues, do you have some special words or a code that you use when praise is really for real? Can you share it with me?

I must be a total stranger to this community because there is no way on earth I can come to understand why all the quite reasonable discourses I keep hearing about development and helping people out always need to be praised as courageous or fearless. They probably know something I don’t. I’d better watch out.

Extract from Voice and Noise 2006