Center for Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman

Matt’s latest post reminded me that we are still awaiting the appointment of a new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Perhaps the problem is that the task of filling the PD post has simply fallen off the radar screen.  I mean, we all know how things can slip between the cracks when busy people get busy, right?

As our own modest effort to help keep the process moving, we here at COMOPS Journal have established he Official Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Count-up Clock.  It appears on the left sidebar for your viewing enjoyment.

Using the very latest in Internet-based digital computer technology, the clock automatically displays the number of days since Obama’s inauguration that the PD post has gone unfilled.  Now nobody will be able to say they lost track of how long it’s been.

Each passing day will increment the count, like a burgeoning Badge of Shame. We figure that at some point the pressure created by the Clock will become unbearable and the people in Washington will have no alternative but to act.  We don’t enjoy having to inflict punishment like this, so we hope we can take down the clock very soon.

As Matt pointed out, President Obama and Secretary Clinton have been doing a fine job themselves on the public diplomacy front so far.  The worry is that while they are doing the big things, the little things are going undone.

Since the Obama administration isn’t listening to me or Matt or any number of other bloggers who want to see this position filled,  maybe they will listen to management and leadership guru Warren Bennis. In an interview with the Harvard Management Update entitled “Leaders: Don’t Go It Alone,” he talked about the pitfalls of a failure by CEOs to delegate.

One problem is that if you’re not delegating, your’re not exploiting important synergies in your organization.  Says Bennis:

[I]f you’re not delegating, you’re not doing your job. …  By definition, an organization is a system of collaboration and interdependence. The work of leading an organization is to fit together the organization’s independent pieces so they create the most value—it’s to increase the sum of the parts.

And the other problem, and one emphasized by Matt, is that failure to delegate has a negative impact of the morale of lower level employees:

[A] failure to delegate appropriately drives down motivation and morale. Competent, creative, hardworking people want their talents and effort recognized. I was reminded of this rather poignantly in a recent conversation with a friend of mine. She is an extraordinarily gifted person who chose to take early retirement from an organization where she’d worked 30 years because she said she never felt that her full talents were utilized.

Washington, you have been served.  It’s time to delegate and fill the position of  PD Chief.  Don’t make us escalate by creating a nag-bot to send you daily e-mail reminders.