Our Buckets have Holes in Them (Part 1)! A framework for strategic leadership based governance in organisations.

There has to be a better way to do organisational leadership, strategy and governance. This ‘blog series’ is a manifesto for leaders in all organisations. This manifesto is aimed at provoking thought and questioning at a time when most of what we “knew to be true” has been undone. A manifesto is a “public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives or motives”. This blog is aimed at challenging intentions, opinions, objectives and motives – many of which have been inadvertently revealed during the last few chaotic years – and offering another set of intentions, opinions, objectives and motives. I aim to address and offer these to organisational leaders across a range of contexts – whether private or public, for profit or not for profit – the current leadership challenge is to make sense of the changing environment, to see a way through, to make the necessary organisational changes and continue to remain effective. To survive and thrive into the future.

Throughout this blog series three key themes will be interwoven – at times one will emerge as dominant at times all three will be emphasised together – these themes are leadership, strategy and governance. Many blogs focus on each of these in isolation – this blog (and subsequent book) is an attempt to address them together and highlight the necessity for all three to be at the top of the organisational agenda.

Why “Our Buckets have Holes in Them” as a title for a blog series about leadership, strategy and governance. In part this title was inspired by a recent announcement (once again) by the South African Department of Trade and Industry that in the last twelve months up to 10% of the national budget was either unaccounted for or inadequately accounted for. This amounts to approximately 25 to 30 Billion South African Rands (Approximately 2 to 3 Billion US Dollars) that has somehow “slipped through the cracks” or leaked out of the system over a 12 month period. The prevalence in South Africa (where I live and do the bulk of my work) of media articles and commentary regaling government on an ongoing basis for the total lack of or inadequate management of controls to prevent this kind of leakage increases ones awareness of these kinds of issues.

However these problems of leakage are not only particular to South Africa, there are accounts from just about every nation of similar issues. The fact that the world has been through one of the widest and deepest financial crisis – and much of the world remains teetering on the edge of a financial precipice never before experienced is clear evidence of mismanagement across every type and form of organisation – from governments down to the smaller organisations no-one seems immune.

Why is the title, “Our Buckets have Holes in them!” appropriate to organisational leaders at this critical time? In brief (to be expounded throughout this blog series) it is because the primary role of leaders is to “create and manage the space” within which an organisation’s business takes place. No organisation has life in itself – it only gets its organisational life from the people who perform within the organisational structure – organisational leadership is about setting up and maintaining the boundaries or edges of the “organisational space”.  What is clear from the many examples of organisational failure in recent times is that this was due to a lack of leadership, strategy and governance – as a result the organisational space – its bucket – leaked! This leakage has been financial, information, people, effectiveness, security etc – i.e. across a wide range of areas, many very difficult to quantify and measure.

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