Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

Practical guide to turning off voters

In Thoughts on May 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

As you might or might not know, this Thursday will see the elections for European Parliament. And while this institution is struggling with various teething problems and has managed to attract various fringe groups vocally opposed to the idea of a unified Europe, I think it is an important building block in something I depend on as a German living in the UK.
Now the UK has a parliamentary tradition reaching back to the days of Robin Hood and therefore should appreciate this exercise, even considering its somewhat shaky relationship with the unifying Europe. But at least I have had to witness the administration stacking the cards against successful execution. Here is what happened.
About a month and a half ago, I received my umpteenth letter asking to confirm my details and status for the electoral register. I appreciate the necessity of this exercise in a country allergic to¬† ID cards and resident registries. However this time, there was no option to do this online, and the only option to respond was by return mail, paid and posted by me. Now postage is not a huge hurdle, but catching the post office during opening hours is. So not a major incentive and I did not respond. About three weeks later arrived substantially the same, but with a free return envelope enclosed. That made me wonder what the first exercise was all about then, but I responded to that, indicating my preference for postal vote, and chucked the letter into the office’s franked outbox.
This Saturday (May 17th), I received a poll notification for this Thursday, with an option to request proxy or postal vote by 14th May. In sudden cases of sickness or work-related inability to vote, proxy vote could be arranged until Thursday. Now I am writing this on a plane leaving the country, and I won’t be back before Thursday night. So at least I will not be voting on this one.
The whole episode makes me wonder, if this process, which for other elections includes electronic registration, free return envelopes and timely notification is not designed to keep people away. For sure, it does not do much to invite participation. Which is sad, given the cry for voter engagement and democratisation heard from all sorts of corners. Maybe the administrative side needs a step change, and towards more capability and not more privatisation and outsourcing.


Time flies when you are having fun

In Thoughts, Treasures on May 3, 2014 at 12:05 am


Wow, I have not been here in a long time. But I suppose between work, building projects, family and other interesting things, blogging, especially when not trying to make a living of it, is maybe not on the top of the list. But at least I think I have something to share that brings me back to the beginning of this blog.

I was looking to share the discovery of freedom while breaking out of a job, that was asking a lot more than its due. Since then, I have taken a university course, the same job again (more or less) and another job with a different focus. And I am noticing a convergence of ideas that have made me a lot happier.

First of all the new job is with a company that does not value more time spent at the desk. Secondly, I got to define the job, the environment, and having designed it as project-based, I even get to shape the content, incl. the option to say no. That has given me a much more diverse workload and time to look at other things, learn and think. I have actually sold the position as having the main strong point that we can afford to focus. And with a lot of other people stuck in fire-fighting and spinning the hamster wheel, this function is not only great to work in, but also appreciated for exactly that capability.

Looking around, I am also noticing that I am not alone with this approach. Daniel Goleman, him of Emotianl Intelligence fame, underlines the importance of focus in his newest book Focus РThe Hidden Driver of Excellence, and Greg McKeown tries to teach the same message Рless done better is better in his newest book Essentialism РThe Disciplined Pursuit of Less. So it seems like I am fully in trend. I also have found some peace in listening to the podcasts made available by Zencast.org.

So it seems like I am finding freedom without the absolute freedom of not having a job, and with salary life also has its extras. I hope that I will manage to explore this whole subject a bit further without becoming too trivial, but if that should happen, please let me know.