Julie Drybrough (@fuchsia_blue) posted a really interesting and thought-provoking piece on individual and collective contribution recently that provoked what became known as The Speakeasy Challenge.
I gave my followers on Twitter the opportunity to put themselves forward as an opponent to me in a debate. I also gave them the chance to submit debate topics with the form of the tweet being as follows e.g.: This house believes that television has a detrimental effect on society. Topics were to come from within the sphere of the world of work. Both the topic for the debate and my debating opponent for the debate were chosen at random from those submitted by our volunteer adjudicator, @AilsaSuttie. The written arguments were not to exceed 500 words.
Well, the arguments have been submitted and verified by the independent adjudicator so it is once again over to you, my followers and readers. There are two ways in which you can register a “For” or “Against” vote in this debate. You may either add a one word comment to this blog post or you may tweet both @AilsaSuttie and myself using the hashtags #workmusingfor or #workmusingagainst. The voting period will be from midnight (BST) on the 5th May until midnight (BST) 10th May. The final result of the vote will be tweeted by me (after independent verification) on Saturday 11th May.
I hope you enjoy the arguments set out below and feel moved to vote one way or the other.
The motion: THIS HOUSE BELIEVES THAT BUGSY MALONE SHOULD BE A COMPULSORY STUDY FOR EVERYONE IN HR
Motion proposed by: MR DAVID GODDIN (@ChangeContinuum)
Arguing FOR the motion: LUCY JEYNES
Arguing AGAINST the motion: SIMON HEATH
Note: Lucy’s argument was so thoughtfully formatted, I’ve decided to post it as an image as well as text. The text version can be found at the bottom of the post.
THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THE MOTION
Those arguing for this motion would do well to remember that HR stands for Human Resources -the very reason we have the saying “People are our greatest asset”. And very costly assets they are too. We employ them to do a job of work. Just because the management team have allowed a degree of flexibility to creep in to working practices in a misguided attempt to demonstrate their enlightened 21st century attitudes, it does not necessarily follow that we in HR, as custodians at the person/process interface, should tolerate any further moral degeneration. The current trend towards frivolity in the world of work would surely only be exacerbated by having as a set text a production that holds out hope for impossible dreams and climaxes with an anarchic orgy of wanton wastefulness and vandalism. It is a short leap indeed from splurge guns to pool tables in the office and there can be nobody of a sound disposition who would countenance such a thing. Or a slide.
Not only does this production encourage frivolous attitudes in behaviour but it additionally promotes the concept of the lucky break in a way that is totally at odds with the realities of the working world. Fizzy has a chance at redemption by taking up once again his mop and bucket and earning an honest wage as a cleaner but is lured away by fame and the chance of easy money. The workplace is a field of shattered dreams and it is a constant drain on productivity. The sooner our “people” learn the harsh realities of employment the better. Surely HR is best placed to remind employees of their good fortune in being gainfully employed. And let us not forget that the Speakeasy, far from being some sort of after-school club with ice cream sodas, is in fact a criminal enterprise. Encourage people to live by the values espoused in Malone and we would see large scale theft of company property.
The character of Fat Sam shows promise to begin with but is then brought low by the weakness of those around him. Relaxing the iron grip of HR on training and development would see similar consequences for our business. Failing to get a grip on discipline in the organisation and leaving people in charge of their own destinies is a sure-fire route to a dysfunctional workforce which does not see that the greater glory of the Executive Board is as admirable an aim as the furtherance of one’s own career. Again, it is the concept of some intangible yet innate force (“It”) that is held out as the key to advancement. Most people don’t have “it”. They struggle just to make it in to the office on time.
Those knuckleheads who seek to make HR funky and relevant with a place at the top table, driving strategy are short-circuiting our placid robots and replacing them with ear-pierced, mohican-sporting, torn-shirted punks. You don’t need a hatful of brains to know that, do you?
You’ve heard the case for and against Bugsy Malone as a compulsory study for HR practitioners. NOW GO VOTE, FOLKS!!
Text version of Lucy’s FOR argument:
Essential Training Videos
Volume 1: Bugsy Malone
Case study scenarios on key HR themes including:
Recruitment and selection
Promotion and progression
Dealing with difficult people
Leadership and influence
This lively development film takes a young, entrepreneur-led business in the entertainment industry, providing useful illustrations of the dynamics of this exciting, high-growth sector that is playing a key role in the UK’s economic recovery. Set against the background of the recession, it explores some of today’s key HR issues and illustrates competitive strategies in action. Every character has been carefully created to demonstrate practical approaches to real-life work situations in 2013.
Each training episode (imaginatively set as “scenes”) can be watched as a stand-alone reflective-learning tool, as part of a facilitated group workshop, or “scenes” can be watched concurrently as a broader “workplace scenario”, ideally followed with group discussions. Participants may wish to make their own notes in a reflective learning journal (a range of Bugsy Malone themed follow-on materials are available).
Blousey personifies the struggle for young people to find work in today’s challenging economic climate. Use Worksheet 1 to identify examples of incorrect process, and legislative breaches which could expose Grand Slam Ltd to tribunal actions. Fizzy was born to be a dancer, but is now working in the dynamic emerging FM sector as a cleaner, which provides him with a regular income and improved career prospects.
Bugsy, the company’s Business Development Manager is great at spotting potential within the workforce, and refers Leroy to Cagey Joe, the Training Manager. Leroy applies himself diligently to the firm’s structured training programme and is soon able to make a key contribution to the competitive strategy.
Scenes with Tallulah and her team are watched with Worksheet 2, where viewers can identify examples of gender discrimination, workplace bullying, sexual harassment and the glass ceiling. Follow-on activities could include a discussion on dress codes in the modern workplace.
Fat Sam (a humorous homage to some of today’s well-known business leaders) is an entrepreneur with a strong vision for his business. He is keen to embrace new technology in order to gain competitive advantage (use Worksheet 3 to identify the weaknesses in his trial of BYOD). He takes a decisive approach to dealing with difficult issues but is sometimes impatient and opinionated.
Use Fat Sam’s scenes to complete Worksheet 4, a risk assessment for work-related stress. Use Fat Sam’s and Dandy Dan’s scenes to complete Worksheet 5, which asks participants to identify development areas for these managers (key themes: listening skills, emotional intelligence, giving feedback, terminating employment).
Worksheets 6 and 7 should be completed once all training scenes have been viewed, and lead participants to reflect on two important issues: how individuals in a team can contribute to a company’s overall competitive strategy; and appropriate policies and guidelines for workplace relationships.
Also in this series:
Annie (young people in the workforce)
Star Wars & Men In Black (diversity)
Matilda (learning & development)
The Godfather (general management, family businesses)