“Eurogroup Demands Varoufakis’ Ouster; Trajectory Toward Default Continues”

The above headline in the “naked capitalist” news letter <http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/04/eurogroup-demands-varoufakis-ouster-trajectory-toward-default-continues.html> caught my attention yesterday (Posted on April 27, 2015 by Yves Smith) and set me thinking.

And yet again, this week, the EuroGroup, a.k.a., the Troika, shuffles on. One sentence in this article caught my notice: “when people in organizations say they have a communication problem, it’s actually a management problem”. Before I moved into the field of development aid, I had spent about ten years operating as a freelance management and organisation development consultant. Whenever I asked senior management what training they felt their managers most needed, the topic of communications was invariably in the top three training needs mentioned. During the course of subsequent communications modules, it became abundantly clear that managers were quite capable of communicating with me about the issues that they confronted. The real problem was that they did not feel confident that their senior managers and even some of their colleagues actually wanted to hear what they had to say! Consequently, putting managers through a training module in communications actually made the situation worse. Now they were deemed to have been trained correctly but still their seniors did not wish to hear the unwelcome news! Clearly the problem was wrongly identified by senior management as requiring a communications solution.

I see elements of this syndrome of management malaise in the present “dialogue des sourds” between the two parties in the confrontation between Greece and the EU. As I have already pointed out, the EuroGroup appears adamant that they do not want to hear the story being told by Greece. The Greek representatives, primarily Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Varoufakis, however, have no intention of changing their story line. I prefer the analogy of Scylla and Charybdis to that of a Rock and Hard Place as being more appropriate to the higher culture of Greece! I am appalled that what was once billed as “the European Project”, with high ideals about creating an integrated Europe that would not go to war again internally, is now being set in concrete by the EU leadership who are using bulldozing tactics. It is not unexpected that the more conservative financial commentators are toe-ing the Euro line and looking for an imaginary split between the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister.

This again is a long article, but worth scanning, at least. On a lighter note, my reference to the bull-dozing tactics of the EuroGroup, has reminded me of the story in Greek mythology of Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth. The Minotaur was a half-man, half-bull, monster who was kept confined in a labyrinth, or maze, and every nine years was fed on seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls. Clearly the emerging democratic society in Athens had to try and put a stop to this. Theseus, one of the legendary founders of Athens, was sent to kill the Minotaur. The King’s daughter gave him a ball of thread. On entering the maze, Theseus tied one end of the thread to the gate and then unrolled the ball of thread as he progressed, moving always downwards and never to Right or Left. He came to the centre of the maze, had one helluva fight with the Minotaur, retraced his steps with the aid of the thread, etc., and they all lived very complicated lives afterwards. Perhaps there is a message, or even an augury of sorts in this tale for today’s happenings in Greece. For Minotaur, think Troika; for seven lads and seven lassies, think of the demands of the austerity programme; Theseus, a conflated image of Tsipras and Varoufakis; Ariadne, representing the Greek people (or Grecian people, as our American cousins tend to name them – I don’t know how they urned that name!); and, the thread, the thread of ongoing discussions that are difficult to follow but necessary if the Dynamic Duo are to slay the Troika and escape home. As for avoiding Right and Left, that was a secret that appears to have died with the Minotaur.