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Monday, September 15, 2014

David Brooks, "Goodbye, Organization Man": ISIS, Yes; Ebola, Not yet

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Goodbye, Organization Man," David Brooks segues from the repetitive need to cobble together coalitions to fight "jihadism," to periodic unpreparedness to combat epidemics such as the current Ebola crisis, to "general institutional decay." Brooks describes what he perceives to be the root of this problem:

"Now nobody wants to be an Organization Man. We like start-ups, disrupters and rebels. Creativity is honored more than the administrative execution. Post-Internet, many people assume that big problems can be solved by swarms of small, loosely networked nonprofits and social entrepreneurs. Big hierarchical organizations are dinosaurs.

. . . .

When the boring tasks of governance are not performed, infrastructures don’t get built. Then, when epidemics strike, people die."

"Nobody wants to be an Organization Man"? Get real, David. Unemployment is still high in both the US and Europe, and many people would give their eye teeth to be employed by the World Health Organization, which employs more than 7,000 people, including "medical doctors, public health specialists, scientists and epidemiologists," as well as "people trained to manage administrative, financial, and information systems, as well as experts in the fields of health statistics, economics and emergency relief. "

Sure, in 2011 the WHO was forced to cut its annual budget by almost $1 billion, but this seems to have mainly affected administration and management staff at its Geneva headquarters, as well as travel and publications.

Sure, working at WHO does not confer rock star status upon its employees. On the other hand, there are very few rock stars in this world.

There are also those of us who are incapable of working with hundreds of other people in large organizations. (Given the pranks I played in the offices of a major financial institution many years ago, I'm amazed I wasn't found out and fired.)

But I think Brooks is missing the point. He wants action against Ebola? Well, if Obama was to raise funds from millionaires to combat this deadly disease, instead of seeking money to finance the Democratic Party, awareness could be raised. Or maybe Michelle might want to be the first to undergo the Ebola ice bucket challenge.

But that would demand leadership, which would take the president away from the links. Also, the latest polls don't demand this sort of action. ISIS, yes; Ebola, not yet.

Not to worry: Ebola's time will also come . . . and go.

1 comment:

  1. When will David Brooks remember it was organization men in big hierarchical organizations that FDR relied on to supply LendLease, and then win WW2?

    Meanwhile, the entre USA is under cyber-attack, fuelled by the ignorance of the selfietwitterers who no longer are taught (real) history, civics, geography, or anything useful to daily life as a citizen...

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