One of the headlines on the BBC News web site this Sunday was “Foreign Office apologises for Pope ‘condom’ memo“.
It appears that a department within the Foreign Office held a brainstorming session to gather ideas for themes to promote during the papal visit due to take place in September this year. Evidently quite a few of the ideas were less than appropriate. But it wouldn’t have been much of a brainstorming session if all the ideas put on the table were sensible and obvious.
According to the BBC news web site, Foreign Secretary David Milliband ‘is said to have been “appalled” by the incident.’ I would have been more impressed if he had simply said he was disappointed with the people involved for being inappropriate, insensitive, insulting or just plain stupid. The junior civil servant responsible for the document has received an oral and written warning and ‘been put on other duties’. Was anything more than a few sharp words necessary?
Thanks to social media, we have more opportunities than ever before to witness stupidity in action. It’s called being human and is a theme Euan Semple shared in his talk ‘Being Human at Social Business Edge‘. It’s a great talk from start to end, but particularly relevant to this post is Euan sharing his own experiences of becoming a manager and the behaviour that emerged:
The reaction to a stupid brainstorming session shows how inhuman so many of our organisations are still trying to be.