The incompetent and ambitious employ and promote the incompetent and ambitious

chris smithThe Somerset levels debacle, the EPA, has greatly angered much of this country, it would be fair to say.

But it’s by no means a unique debacle. Do you remember one which was covered at OoL about the flooding of the Missouri basin. Naturally you’re not interested in that at this time but it does give a perspective on the current troubles.

Jodi Farhat is exactly what Lord Smith is – a bumbling fool but accompanied by certain traits which are the last thing one needs in the head of an agency or company:

  1. Competence up to a point and the gobbiness to go with it – yeah, entrust it to me ’cause I know how it works.
  2. Complete incompetence outside of that and the gobbiness to pass it off as a cascade of failure which began with someone else’s errors.
  3. A political deep captcha that places certain people in the promotions queue whilst condemning any one actually competent to the margins – the expertise called upon when wanted but not when not wanted.

Jodi Farhat did precisely that with her line managers. The Missouri basin was dotted with homes and the people were reliant on the Water Management Chief for the Corps of Engineers to keep them safe when the Missouri did its traditional bloating and overflowing. Not just that but this particular year was a bumper year for danger apparently. [Read at the end of the link above]

Did Farhat bring all her line managers in and act on their advice?

Did she hell – you see, Jodi Farhat was The Manager, the Big Boss, the Big Kahuna and she had a vision which would cover her with glory in the management of all these lives. An incompetent with delusions of grandeur, a housewife, catapulted into the top spot of a major organization by a series of political nods of the head meant to score brownie points with people further up the chain, who in turn would score points for Equality and Diversity with those even higher. Pats on the head all round.

Except it was a disaster waiting to happen. You saw it in Somerset, same happened with Farhat. In this pic, she’s the one second up from the lower right corner – the one with the blank look.

affirmative action

And our Jodi was full of it – when line managers begged to differ on her policy, citing past experience with the Missouri, she ignored and then dismissed them. She turned to yes men who were not even in the same league and “accepted their advice”.

The basin was flooded. It had had issues before in its history but the vital thing is – lessons had been learned and the uneasy situation was being … hmmmm … managed.

There are people like Smith at the top whose primary purpose is to be a person at the top. Naturally, being a non-comp with all the tricks of blaming someone else, learned over a long life of incompetence, he wants others in there doing the job and the ones he employs are the Farhats who employ the Farhats, Zenna Atkinses and Lin Homers.

Wiggia points to Lin Homer. Let’s look at her Wiki bio:

In 1982 she joined Hertfordshire County Council where she stayed for 15 years, rising to Director of Corporate Services. She then left to join Suffolk County Council as chief executive in 1998. After four years at Suffolk, Homer went to be the chief executive of Birmingham City Council in 2002.[2]

In 2005, Homer was criticised by the Election Commissioner for failings in her role as returning officer during a postal vote-rigging scandal involving Labour candidates the previous year, described by the Commissioner as one that “would disgrace a banana republic”, and involving hundreds of votes failing to be counted.[3] Homer defended her role to the Election Commission, saying she had been in “strategic, not operational control”, and had confined herself to “motivational management and fire fighting”.[4]

You see the pattern, yes? At HCC, she did a workmanlike enough job, with not too much riding on it, enough to get the promotion but then the Peter Principle kicked in, as you’ve just seen. And now here’s the rub – was she avoided for other positions of responsibility?

Was she hell:

Homer resigned from her post shortly afterwards, joining the civil service as the Director-General heading the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office, in August 2005.[5] The Home Office was re-organised in 2008, with the formation of the Border and Immigration Agency, later renamed the UK Border Agency, of which Homer became the first chief executive.[6] In 2013, Homer’s tenure at UKBA was criticised for its “catastrophic leadership failure” by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which said it had been repeatedly misled by the Agency. Committee chairman Keith Vaz said her performance was “more like the scene of a Whitehall farce than a government agency operating in the 21st century”.[7]

Is that the end of it? [Coughs]:

Homer’s appointment to head of HMRC prompted criticism centred around her record in previous positions.[16][17] However, her appointment was supported by David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the UK Treasury, who said “She is a highly effective chief executive and the right person to lead HMRC”[18]

Uh-huh. Define “highly effective chief executive and the right person to lead “, David.

Now, if Homer was unique, it would be all right but she isn’t unique, not by a long shot. From HP’s Carly Fiorina to Zenna Atkins, we have gift of the gab, overweening misplaced confidence in her own ability to run something, shrill reaction when someone competent offers ideas which are either adopted as her own or rejected and so it goes on.

Men of that type can be equally incompetent but the complexion is different. The man blusters and threatens, the woman of that particular kind witchhunts, seeks out disloyalty in order to kill it off, is self-entitled and is not unacquainted with victimhood when it all goes pear-shaped. It was the glass ceiling again, wasn’t it?

I know many competent men who have worked their way up and know their jobs. I know quite a few women of that kind too – plus they have the looks and brainpower to go with it. So where are these competent men and women? Not running the EPA, that’s for sure.

Those not of a conspiracy bent would say that one breeds the other, that the natural tendency is towards incompetence and debacle, long before the current day PCism got us by the short and curlies. Yes but there were competent people employed previously and things ran reasonably well. People came up through the ranks and knew what they were doing, until employed one rung too high. Now incompetence appears to be one of the tickboxes.

Plus ambition and the ability to instantly blame others. We’re in great hands.