This week’s guru

Forbidden fruit taken off the menu

The Adam Smith Institute, the free-market think tank, has awarded the title
of ‘Daftest Taxpayer-funded Job in the UK’.

The accolade went to the ‘Five-a-day Executives’ of the health service, who
get paid an impressive £28,903 a year to encourage others to eat five portions
of fruit or veg a day.

Guru initially thought this was great until he realised that the
five-times-a-day stipulation applied to apples and oranges and not to what Guru
likes to call ‘forbidden fruit’.

Other jobs that our hard earned money is funding include the Bristol City
Council Walking Officer (encourages people to walk more – £20,000), the Smoking
Cessation Specialist at East Kent Coastal Trust (£20,000) and Real Nappy
Officers, employed by several councils to promote ‘real’ nappies.

Ex-mayor indicates taste for cash crops

Visitors to the Personnel Today website may have seen the feature on Rudy
Giuliani’s speech on leadership, which was beamed to Guru and other Worthies at
an event hosted by the Institute of Leadership and Management a week or so ago.

What you might not have seen, however, was a story that didn’t hit the
headlines. At the time of the speech, the BBC tried to get an interview with
the ex-NYC mayor for Radio 4’s flagship Today programme. Giuliani modestly
asked for £150,000 for the interview. The BBC declined. Maybe it thought this
was too much; or maybe it realised it needed to spend the cash on fruit and veg

Lost opportunity to reap fruits of success

Guru thought he had at last found someone talking sense when it came to
managing a workforce when he saw the following recommendations by Proudfoot

– Resist all attempts to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of
whatever your team does (if you actually have output measurement tools, make
them so complicated only the finance director will understand them)

– Depending on your management style, set all objectives either too high or
too low (hit your targets easily or fire staff who don’t)

– Keep a safe distance from those at work with you (David Brent-style
ripostes such as ‘I don’t want problems, give me solutions’ work well)

– Every communication should be by e-mail (an opportunity to show off your
command of industry buzzwords and jargon; never share info with others –
knowledge is power).

These recommendations are at the core of Guru’s new productivity thesis –
Excuse Me Sir, Can I Have More Please?: How To Keep The Staff Urchins In Their
Place (strangely, as yet unavailable from all good book shops). Unfortunately,
they actually came under Proudfoot’s heading of ‘How to be ineffective at

Guru heaved a sigh that yet another opportunity to turn the UK’s
productivity gap around had been missed.

Forging new careers ends in pair porridge

Proof that all the training in the world isn’t a substitute for talent and
guile emerged after a man was sentenced to jail for forging documents and
sailing around the world as a senior officer or captain of a number of ships.

At the time of his arrest, Neville Young, 47, of Aberdeen, had been sailing
the seven seas armed only with a forged photocopy of a US Chief Mates
Certificate of Competence, and fake British and Liberian certificates of

Despite five years’ navigating ships around the globe, Young was not
certified to serve as an officer in any capacity.

The hapless sailor got nine months in chokey. Guru sympathises, as he knows
only too well the trouble you can get into if you rock the boat.

However, an Indian milkman called ‘Mustkeen’ might have taken the wind out
of Young’s sails after he was caught posing as a policeman.

Having failed to make the grade as a constable in the Delhi force, he
transformed himself into Sub-inspector Jitender Chauhan and took to the streets
in a fake uniform.

When he was caught, 10 years later, investigators found various official
badges, which revealed how he regularly promoted himself in recognition of his
good work dispensing justice. And locals told the authorities how he had
resolved many disputes over the years.

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