12 lessons from the last 12 months. Pt 2
Lesson 7: I can’t control expectations, but I can manage them
Being in public office comes with quite a number of expectations and this is not absurd. Quite often I get an interesting number of requests from people who have very high expectations of me. Being of assistance to people comes naturally to me and I try to reasonably fulfil requests as long as they are genuine and within my capacity. For instance, in previous engagements, I was able to assist a good number of people to secure jobs and opportunities. However, in my current capacity, when requests are outside my purview and probably require me to engage or seek favours externally, I am careful to proceed. In the past one year, I’ve done way less in securing jobs for people than I usually would and I am not sure why.
Lesson 8: Leave every place better than you found it
I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve my people as a relatively young person in public office. I believe I have a responsibility to leave the door open for the next set of young persons and my goal is to move the needle of impact so far ahead that whoever comes after me will be motivated to do even better. There’s a saying that if everyone sweeps the front of their house, the whole street will be clean. The goal is to play my part so well and leave behind a system that is well ahead of how I found it.
Lesson 9: Administrative processes can be an enabler and an encumbrance
During my time as the Senior Advisor to the former Federal Minister of Health, I noted with admiration, the filing processes within the civil service.
You see, each file has a set of numbers to aid identification. For instance, all file folders have a file title, file number and columns for Date, To and Page. Each of these data points help with indexing of files and ensure ease of follow up and referencing. What’s more, file movement from one desk to another, requires three sets of action to be carried out:
(i) Person sending the file must sign said file, include the date action was taken, and highlight the relevant pages for proposed action;
(ii) File must be recorded in an outgoing booklet in the office of the person making a request, for ease of tracking;
(iii) File must be recorded in the incoming booklet of receiver for ease of tracking and if necessary, for determining how long a file has been at a particular spot.
If you think about it, using this example, the administrative process in the civil service is well thought out and actually designed to ease bottlenecks and minimise the chances of errors when done right.
However, considering how rapidly times are changing, it’s about time we optimise this process through digitisation for more efficient work. The clerical time it takes to move a file from desk A to desk B would be significantly reduced via email messaging or the use of productivity platforms.
Lesson 10: Administrative language can be an enabler and an encumbrance
Besides the processes, one other thing that fascinates me is the similarities between documentation in clinical practice and the civil service.
As a doctor, you are expected to document every detail (actions taken and proposed plans) in the patient’s case note, a practice which is similar to what obtains in the civil service.
In addition, there are some interesting lingos. For instance, “For your information (FYI)”, “For your information and necessary action (FYI&NA)”, “kindly review”, “kindly comment” and “kindly discuss” are all very different responses and require different actions.
Knowing which to use and how to respond to them is key!
Lesson 11: What would Ado-Ekiti look like in the future
For some strange reason, anytime I think of what Ado-Ekiti could look like in a decade, the skylines of Chicago come to mind. Granted that Nigeria appears to have moved away from developing skyscrapers but I keep getting that vibe.
Ado is a developing town and the city planning and development is only beginning to take shape. Its mountains and lush green trees give a scenic sight to behold. My views of the town are great (I live in an elevated part of town) and I constantly map out what the future of the town could look like in my head. Lol.
When you combine the Ado’s breathtaking scenery, with the warmth of Ekiti people and the world famous pounded yam, I see a State with a solid future if its potentials are well harnessed.
Lesson 12: The pillars behind the scene
One tree does not make a forest they say. I have a good team and I am grateful for the work they put in. My Permanent Secretaries and Directors have put in the shift to get us to where we are. Members of my immediate team have also been great. I make serious demands of them and I can be unrelenting in getting tasks to specific levels, but they have been amazing.
The biggest pillar of all though has been madam. She’s been gentle, understanding and been a most supportive partner and I’m most grateful. Without her support, this last 1 year would have been a mess.