The recent spate of train, bus and plane crashes in Western Europe, Canada and the US has, understandably, precipitated a series of articles by reporters, journalists and others. Some have reported the facts, while others have sensationalised the events, provided a human view, or speculated the causes of these disasters.
Amongst the articles I have seen, one stood out because it raised some interesting bigger questions—of jumping to conclusions in some deterministic sense; of shoddy reporting; and, dare I say it, of cultural prejudices. I commend the article to you—perhaps to stimulate your mind as you take time out to enjoy a coffee—because it highlights the power of the written word to influence the way we perceive reality.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted some thoughts about long service on Boards. My conclusion then was that ten to twelve years was a reasonable upper limit on service, beyond which the value of one's contribution starts to fall away.
While the context of that post was corporate boards, the value question also needs to be asked of elected local body officials—Mayors and Councillors—for they hold a governance mandate. I raise this because an article published in the Dominion Post today highlighted the issues of long service and the need for 'fresh blood' in the Wellington City Council. The average length of service is twelve years. One Councillor has spent 27 years on Council. While some of the longer-serving Councillors were quick to defend their long stints, I couldn't help but get the feeling that occupancy in the role and advocacy of single issues (not to mention fees earned), had become more important than performance and public good in a number of cases (click here and here for examples).
This latest example reinforces the opinion I expressed two weeks ago. Performance and contribution should always prevail over longevity and status. I hope the candidates and voters bear this in mind in the run-up to the local body elections this October.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.