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Relying on oil 

“Do you think the unpopular mullahs in Iran would be able to hold power today if they didn’t have huge oil revenues to finance their merchant cronies and security services? Do you think Saudi Arabia would be able to keep most of its women unemployed and behind veils if it didn’t have petrodollars to replace their energies? Do you think it is an accident that the most open and democratizing Arab countries — Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco, Dubai and Qatar — are those with either no oil or dwindling oil reserves? They’ve had to learn how to tap the talents of their people rather than their sand dunes.” Tom Friedman is on form.

Live from Joburg 

The British Council is funding an excellent weblog on the World Summit on Sustainable Development, running in Johannesburg now. It’s a model of the genre.


Lucy Kellaway’s column in the Financial Times usually annoys me. She takes easy targets — the nonsense spouted by so many management consultants or CEO excesses — and makes fun of them. But today she is both more serious and on target. (Since her column is available online only to FT.com subscribers, you’ll have to take my word for it.)

Her subject is trust. Inspired by the recent decision by the BBC to allow its employees to self-approve expenses below £100, Kellaway advocates more organisations should take a more trusting stance. “Companies should… ask if [their untrusting policies] are necessary, and if they really achieve what they are supposed to. In each case, they should start from a presumption of trust, and bring in rules and checks only when they are called for.”

And she adds a worthwhile wrinkle to the BBC expenses policy: “Make everybody’s expenses public. After you had input your own claim into the system, your running totals would be available for colleagues to view. Anybody who was spending too much would be visible to all.”

Sounds analogous, to me, to the arguments that companies should encourage all employees to run a weblog. Get stuff out in the open. It’s healthy for the individual and the organisation. Interestingly, Groove is adopting this attitude, and has recently drawn up a corporate policy on weblogging by employees.

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