Lessons Learned in Our Nation's Capitol and Global Governance

A few months after Ronald Reagan entered office as president of the United States for the first time, I started my first job as an intern on Capitol Hill. While I eventually abandoned a career-path in the political arena, I never forgot the important lessons I learned from my boss Patsy Guyer, Executive Assistant to former Senator J. Bennett Johnston (LA).

What I learned from Patsy, was not only the importance of a well-functioning administrative workflow and organizational system, and how to structure one, but also the necessity for team-work and a hands-on, 'fair-but-firm' managerial approach in succeeding at any endeavor. Circumstances of my life in the '80s were as turbulent and chaotic as they have been in the past decade, so the examples and lessons Patsy gave to me were of great significance -- and a rock of stability and sanity in a time where my life desperately needed it. Recently, on the Internet, I found a letter from Senator Johnston where he paid tribute to Patsy Guyer -- his words mimic my sentiments exactly:

"Patsy [] handled a huge array of responsibilities over the years, ranging from supervising State offices to managing summer interns, to creating and overseeing an exceptionally efficient mail operation.

But if Patsy should be singled out for anything, it is her management of and deep personal commitment to a case work operation that is unmatched in the volume and quality of service it has rendered to countless thousands of Louisianians in need. I am very proud of the aid my office has given over the years to people who had nowhere else to turn...

We were able to be effective principally because Patsy Guyer has an astounding network of friends and colleagues throughout the Congress and among Federal agencies and, most of all, because she greeted every case, no matter how routine, with the enthusiasm and commitment she brought to her first day on the job in November of 1972. Whether the challenge was to bring home from Abu Dhabi a tragically injured Louisiana businessman, locate a missing child in a Rwandan refugee camp or organize a food airlift to Cambodia, we always knew Patsy would have the ingenuity and contacts to start the process and the absolutely iron-willed determination and dedication to see it through to completion. I have never known a more selfless and giving individual..."

No other words could more perfectly describe the person I knew and admired. Patsy, through her actions (not words) showed me to what extent 'getting the job done' necessitates dedication, perseverance, networking, and absolute iron-will determination that won't bend even when faced with the most obstinate federal bureaucrat that the US government can conjure up. (And, my message for the give-me-the-run-around State Department officials that I have been writing to for the past 8 years, is that I was taught by Patsy Guyer, so I'm not going anywhere until they start doing their job!)

Unfortunately, the vital importance and role that the administrative function plays within an organization has been lost in the past decades. Masters and doctorates are as common now as high school diplomas once were -with too many people forgetting the importance of street-smarts and common sense in actually getting things accomplished.

In fact, much of the elevated level of negligence in the 'modern' world (see my blog The 70/90 Rule & the Principle of Due Diligence) is due to a dearth of qualified administrative personnel within the labor force, coupled by 'too many chefs spoil the soup' syndrome at all levels of management.

Not only is the Feminist movement 'stalled' -- everyone, and everything, seems to be 'stalled' these days, for the simple reason that no one will take action. Everyone is so busy chasing their tails in speech after speech, conference after conference, and meeting after meeting - that no one is minding the store. Never before has mankind possessed so many extremely highly-educated populations and work-forces, extra-ordinary technological capabilities, and a multitude of research and information in all of the physical and social sciences. However, we still find ourselves at the 'cross-roads' to humanity because of rampant greed, immorality, and apathy as much in the public sphere as in the private sphere. The actions (or inactions) that we, as a global community, take in the coming decades will determine the survival or demise of the human race and this planet - with the present inertia amongst our leaders tipping the scales towards our demise.

As Ian Goldin states in Divided Nations: Why Global Governance is Failing, and What We Can Do About It

"As we work on the many global challenges we are struck by the need for global solutions. If there is one thing that keeps us awake at night, it is the absence of global leadership and even awareness of the scale of the global challenges... Humanity is at a crossroads. This could be our best century ever, as we find the means and collective will to overcome poverty, disease, and many of the other tribulations that remain endemic despite human progress. Or it could be our worst century, as systemic risks and the unintended consequences of technological progress and globalization overwhelm the gains and lead to devastating destruction. The outcome will depend on our collective ability to understand and take action to address key challenges. It depends on global management. The widening gap between our knowledge of the issues and the failure of global leaders to address global concerns is our biggest challenge.

The future, however, will be unlike the past. We face a new set of challenges... Resolving questions of global governance urgently requires an invigorated national and global debate. This necessitates the involvement of ordinary citizens everywhere. For without the engagement and support of us all, reform efforts are bound to fail."

Even though the need for enhancing global governance is widely recognized in the politically correct rhetoric of today, as Goldin points out,

"too often reforms [] are equivalent to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titantic... The world has changed in fundamental ways since the institutions were formed and so it should come as no surprise that they are overwhelmed by new challenges. Concerted reform may in some areas close the governance gaps, but for the most part the participants in these reform efforts include representatives of the governments who have resisted reform and so significant reform is stymied."

If good governance is going to become an effective tool in facing global challenges, we must start looking towards implementation, implementation, and more implementation - but effective implementation by real-live human beings who understand real-live problems. What is needed is the hands-on, no-nonsense approach of Patsy Guyer - someone who didn't gawk at any task, and who was tireless and dedicated in moving mountains within the nightmare, bureaucratic, minefields of the American federal government.

This is what America (and the World) needs! Action, and more Action -- from someone with the moral integrity of Patsy Guyer.