This way, please...
I spent the whole day with my senior staff in a management seminar. Traditionally, we go away for a couple of days, leavening the working sessions with some cultural activities. But this autumn is so busy for everybody that in the end we settled for an intensive day of work in a downtown hotel, with colleagues being able to attack their e-mails at the beginning and the end of the day. The political level is represented in these meetings by the Head of the President’s Private Office, Andrea Pierucci, and in the morning he gave us an excellent presentation of the challenges and potential for the Committee that will arise in the post-Lisbon Treaty world (coming to a screen near you on 1 December!). There was thus a direct follow-on from the previous day’s discussions in the Bureau. Having heard the case for change, over lunch we were expertly lectured by an experienced consultant, Peter Edwin Willis, about ‘management and change’. Willis has worked with all sizes of organisations in both the public and private sectors and his analysis was reassuring in the sense that we are already doing many things right. He was also reassuring in his observation that change in the public sector tends to be slower and more incremental but in the end is more robust and enduring (because the private sector tends to prefer quick fixes). That
was reassuring because in the afternoon session I had to chair a session entitled ‘One year after; first conclusions and the future’, and one of my conclusions is that we have been so slow and incremental that we have not yet implemented all of the changes that I proposed over a year ago now! On the other hand, my determination to manage change in as consensual a fashion as possible has clearly been effective. We have recently carried out a staff satisfaction survey. We got a very high response rate (well over 50 per cent) and this revealed that over 80 per cent of staff and colleagues declared themselves to be satisfied with their working environment and their work. That is immensely reassuring. Two clear conclusions I drew from the day’s intense proceedings: first, whilst we simply cannot afford ‘change for change’s sake’; second, change will continue to be a necessary aspect of our environment because we are an evolutionary institution entering an evolutionary period for the Union as a whole. I began the day with a quotation from José Ortega y Gasset
: ‘I am myself plus my circumstances.’ In the same way, I argued, the Committee is itself (a venerable institution with a Treaty based role) plus all the circumstances that, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, will now begin to surround it. All in all, an excellent, though very intense, day.