Thursday, December 29, 2016

United Nations Parable

A little light hearted parable welcoming the new year and our new Secretary General

UN Secretary General I: We need to sprint. We need to run 100 meters really fast. This would be a great outcome for mankind. Let us be practical, hire the best, and deliver this outcome!

Ban Ki Moon
Following a two year long procedure the UN hires Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive five years ago. He is retired now of course and a bit over the hill, but still lightning fast. Not bad.

Admin: Usain, welcome to the UN team. We see you prefer using Nike brand running spikes. Unfortunately no due diligence has been done on Nike, and wearing such shoes in an official capacity violates single source procurement requirements. In order to ensure no audit problems down the line, you will have to run in these noname brand army boots made by UN volunteers in Ouagadougou.

Usain: This will slow me down quite a bit, but ok, I am willing to change and learn new things for the good of our organisation and the world.

Usain Bolt
Admin: Usain, you are spending too much time practising actual running. It is mandatory that all staff spend time learning. We have developed some video based learning tools, which are run on a sketchy internet platform dating from 1980 and filled with logical inconsistencies and technical glitches, that will serve to teach you the basics of bipedal motion. We ask that you please take these and print out your certificate to verify to administration that you have successfully completed 'basic walking' 'speeding up' and 'running for beginners' training modules. Unfortunately we cannot allow you to continue actual running until these courses have been duly completed.

Five years later,over the hill, out of shape, wearing noname brand army boots and dragging a cinder block chained to his left ankle (which is another administrative story). Usain manages to run the 100 meters in 46.07 seconds. Although slightly off his 9.6 second world record pace, this feat is noted in the UN results based knowledge management information portal as successful completion of a performance indicator in the sesqui-annual strategic plan and reported to member states, who thank the secretariat for the effort and ask for strengthened and enhanced work on moving quickly.

UN Secretary General II: Let us be practical, we need to face the fact that the running thing didn't really deliver an outcome. We need to think creatively and work with the private sector. Let us swim 100 meters really fast. We can deliver!

Antonio Guterres
Admin: Well this Bolt fellow can't swim, and given his deplorable track record (pun intended) with our learning tools he's probably not capable of change. He only has a few years left before mandatory retirement anyway, let's transfer him to the field office for thumb twiddling. But be sure to keep the really nice ankle and cinder block arrangement we developed to assist him. Of course, while Usain is still on the books, there is no envelope for new staff hires, but maybe Michael Phelps would be available for consulting work. This ankle contraption will probably fit him nicely.

Michael Phelps

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