Guiding Quote

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Einstein

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Strategies to be Wary of: Nullification

Many people believe that once a decision has been reached, a law passed, or an edict issued, that a particular matter is resolved. Not so if the opponents are powerful, determined, and savvy. Having lost the public battle over an issue they then move to reduce or even nullify the impact of the decision. They do this in a number of way: they slow down the pace of its implementation, they argue about the wording of the rules or regulations that will guide its implementation, they call for further studies, they add additional time consuming requirements, they seek out rare adverse effects and hype them as the norm, the list is almost endless.

In the political world we have just had a prime example over financial reform in the US. In the aftermath of the 2008/9 financial disasters Congress enacted the Dodd Frank Act, which included a section popularly called the “Volcker Rule”. I won’t go into the details. But Wall St hated this stipulation. So they beavered away in the regulation making part of the process to water down the rule. They almost succeeded, and they still might, when JP Morgan went and lost $6B using the same practice that the banks had enshrined in the regulations. Bad timing for them: maybe not so much for us taxpayers.

Another example comes from the application of trade policy. During the 80’s everyone worried about the trade imbalance caused by the success of Japan’s exports. On a number of occasions Japan agreed to increase imports from the US and European countries. However they then created a large set of import regulations that totally negated the agreements: Public acceptance, Private nullification.

This technique is used almost every day in the project world. Opponents of your project will chip away at your budget, your resources, your business case, your requirements, and your project’s implementation schedule, there’s no such thing as a concrete decision on a project. There’s always new stuff to be wary of and to address. It's never over until the calorie challenged lady sings!

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