Cunliffe on Key and Cunliffe

July 8th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Compare his and Key’s training and Cunliffe says there is a significant difference in their ideals despite similar boyhood backgrounds.

“There is a clear difference in the way that we think based on our professional training. He’s spent most of his life as a trader, which is by definition taking a series of bets on short-term positions, whereas my training at BCG [Boston Consulting Group] was in strategy … working back from your desired future to what you do tomorrow to try to get you on the best path.

One may nor may not agree with how Cunliffe positions himself and Key – one short-term and the other strategic. But let’s assume they’re correct.

Key is a chief executive type Prime Minister. He certainly does have a direction he pushes the country in, but his focus is in dealing with the multitude of problems that arise every week and month, and finding solutions to them. And to a degree, a lot of government is about trying to fix problems.

Cunliffe says he would be more focused on a strategy for NZ as a whole. That could well be true. But I’m sceptical of how well a country reacts to a top down strategy.

The reality is we are a small player in the world, and much of what happens in NZ is the result of forces well beyond our control. Also a country is not a company. The PM can’t decide for every single business what they should be doing. Hundreds of thousands of business owners and managers will be making those decisions for their own companies.

Now a Government can come in and say we have a strategy for NZ. It can be the Greens saying we’ll invest billions into a global renewable energy industry. It can be Labour saying they want forestry and dairy to sell more high value products than raw products.

But are Governments the best people to decide? We sell what people are willing to buy off us. I have a fair degree of faith that if there was money to be made in selling windfarm technology to the world, or finished wood products, rather than logs, then there would be dozens of Kiwi companies doing just that.

So as someone sceptical of the power of Government, I don’t see it as a bad thing to have a Prime Minister who isn’t trying to force his strategic vision on NZ businesses – but instead focus on removing roadblocks as they emerge.

If people really convinced they have the right strategy for NZ businesses, then I’d rather they go and set one up themselves, rather than try to impose a strategy on other businesses.

Also Rodney Hide points out a key ingredient of being a trader:

 

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40 Responses to “Cunliffe on Key and Cunliffe”

  1. JMS (303 comments) says:

    Cunliffe is welcome to be as strategic as he wants, with his own money.

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  2. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Bit of a straw man there DPF. Did Cunliffe really say that he would ‘decide for every single business what they should be doing’? In any event, the government does do strategic planning of a sort. How else do we get things like the Business Growth Agenda? Isn’t that a strategy?

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  3. Bingo99 (66 comments) says:

    Ah yes, consultants. All care, no responsibility. The types who rock up, act as if they know best and are experts at everything, waste everyone’s time and distract them from actual productive work while spewing every buzzword in the book, then hoik off a cut-and-paste report as though it’s some piece of incredibly insightful gold-plated Bible of everything to do with your business.

    Why would you want to bring up your career as a consultant? They’re the ultimate leeches in the corporate world. And then a career as a diplomat… ugh, MFAT is not something you want to brag about. Though MFAT staff are the only ones that don’t seem to realise this. It’s no secret that MFAT staff are usually unemployable anywhere productive after about 5 years in their roles – they can’t think independently and they think they’re all that and a bag of chips. Probably why they end up as consultants.

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  4. mister nui (975 comments) says:

    But I’m sceptical of how well a country reacts to a top down strategy.

    Singapore, South Korea??? A top down strategy did miracles for them.

    Whilst I don’t think Cunliffe could hold together any kind of strategy, too many conflicting interested parties that he is beholden to, I would love to see a 40 year strategy laid out for NZ.

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  5. Nookin (3,042 comments) says:

    Come now, JMS. You are talking about the genius who foresaw the growth in dairy product and conceived, designed and established Fonterra.

    On the other hand, he is also the guy who promises 2000 new teachers to reduce teacher student ratios when natural growth appears to demand 2500 new teachers to maintain the status quo.

    Maybe he should have stayed with Forrest and Bird after all?

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  6. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    Cunliffe can’t even organise the herd of cats that is the Labour party. Please explain your strategy for winning enough votes to stay the leader of the Labour party let alone the leader of NZ.

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  7. JMS (303 comments) says:

    Bingo99,

    I don’t have a problem when the private sector hires consultants, occasionally it may be of benefit, it’s their money after all.
    It’s hilarious the kind crap companies will pay for.

    It make me furious though when govt departments that shouldn’t even exist, spend hundreds of thousands on consultant reports advising to “create synergies going forward”.

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  8. thedavincimode (6,539 comments) says:

    translation:

    Even though I invented my CV, it still looks completely fucked so I had better try and put shit on Key and persuade people that all he ever did was sit in front of a screen trading currency all day, whereas I’m some kind of strategic guru as evidenced by me doing the Fonterra deal I lied about. Hopefully everyone will swallow that hook line and sinker and not pause to reflect upon the last 8 or 9 months as evidence of my complete lack of creds as a manager, leader or strategic guru. Now, all I need to do is buy up all the copies of key’s book so nobody finds out the truth. Fast dial #2 for EPMU and some $$$$ …

    Buggar … what if they check out what’s happened to the health system since we got the arse …

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  9. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Thinking about strategy, didn’t National set up a taskforce to come up with a strategy after they came into office in 2008? Unfortunately, the 2020 taskforce only came up with politically unpalatable solutions, so the original goal of catching up with Australia suddenly became ‘aspirational’ and hasn’t been heard of since.

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  10. insider (1,003 comments) says:

    @Mikenmild

    i seem to remember cunliffe wanting to act like a mafia don and call various businesses into his office for a chat about their taxes or prices.

    stupid cunliffe is now exposed. He may have been a mid level consultant but he’s never run a global arm of a global company. If he thinks being a consultant is strategic what is being a senior executive? Hint- they don’t trade.

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  11. dime (9,473 comments) says:

    “whereas my training at BCG [Boston Consulting Group] was in strategy.. which i utilized to great effect when creating fonterra and inventing the internet”

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  12. JMS (303 comments) says:

    Remembering also about strategy, didn’t National set up a taskforce to come up with a strategy after they came into office in 2008.

    If your suggesting National has a lot in common with Labour, not many here will disagree with you.

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  13. notrotsky (62 comments) says:

    I have worked in multinationals that have utilised BCG’s services both locally and abroad.

    In my experience they are hugely expensive and usually produced tomes of useless waffle which was never acted upon.

    About as useless and expensive as most merchant Bankers IMO.

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  14. Kimbo (671 comments) says:

    @ mister nui

    …I would love to see a 40 year strategy laid out for NZ.

    Well, we are 30 years into one – Rogernomics. And we have a “rock star economy” which is the envy of many in the world.

    And we are now being offered a stark contrast between a leader who wants to keep the vast bulk of decision-making in the market as per Roger Douglas…and another who wants to pick tax-payer funded winners like value-added forestry.

    It might work in South Korea and Singapore where the culture is more compliant and less individualistic. The general decline in standards of living under the command economy of 1935-84 indicates top-down planning is not a winner in the long term for New Zealand

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  15. Jack5 (4,604 comments) says:

    John Key from 1995 was Merrill Lynch’s head of global foreign exchange in 1995, and held the position for six years. From 1999 to 2001 he was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    In his professional career he was far more than the “trader” that Cunliffe suggests. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a top international currency trader. I doubt there’s any other NZ politician now or in the last few decades who would have the reflexes, the intelligence, and above all the nerves, to succeed at this occupation. Being Prime Minister of a country the size of NZ must be a doddle after that career.

    It’s to John Key’s credit, that from being a poor boy in a State home in Christchurch, he became first a seriously rich international business executive then a highly popular PM in NZ. He’s a role model.

    Key must have nerves of steel, and a deficiency of dopamine driving him to cope calmly with immense risks. The tougher it gets, the better he performs. If not a top international currency trader Key might have been a top mountaineer or been a successful a special forces soldier.

    http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1869106,00.html

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  16. Prince (90 comments) says:

    The topic that seems to energise Cunliffe more than any other is….himself.

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  17. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    ‘If not a top international currency trader Key might have been a top mountaineer or been a successful a special forces soldier.’
    Perhaps he is also faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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  18. Steve Taylor (205 comments) says:

    Mikenmild: Only on weekends :)

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  19. Jack5 (4,604 comments) says:

    Whoops, in my 1.40 post, I think the link to risk taking shows I got the wrong end of the stick about risk taking and dopamine. It’s not a deficiency of dopamine. Here’s what it says:

    daredevils’ brains are more saturated with the chemical, predisposing them to keep taking risk…

    and research that showed:

    …humans who were more spontaneous and eager to take risks had fewer dopamine-regulating receptors than those who were more cautious…

    Milkenmild in his sneering comment at 1.43 illustrates the Left’s ignorance of Key’s rather extraordinary capabilities, as shown by his currency trading career. No wonder Labour, now a remnant socialist party of school teachers and other educationists, is well on the way to extinction.

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  20. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Oh yes, all hail the currency traders. I’m only surprised that more of them aren’t becoming leaders of states: clearly they have the dopamine levels for it.

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  21. Jack5 (4,604 comments) says:

    Re milkenmild, at 1.53:

    Or, milkenmild, it’s too easy.

    Do you think Cunliffe, a celebrated South Canterbury pig hunter it seems, might have a fair bit of dopamine, too, or is he a Walter Mitty type? Faster than a speeding boar, more powerful than an Anzac uncle, and able to leap tall porky handouts in single bounds.

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  22. Kimbo (671 comments) says:

    @ mikenmild

    Oh yes, all hail the currency traders.

    Er, it was actually Cunliffe (you know – the guy no longer playing personality politics) who raised the matter of Key’s former profession.

    And seeing as Cunliffe has punted his CV out there, presumably Labour supporters are meant to fawn over him, just as they did with Helen Clark, because he is an academic. Not that there is anything wrong with that vocation. Just as there were lessons and life skills to be learned from being a stationary engine driver such as Norman Kirk – our first genuine Minister of Foreign Affairs. They are what they are. And they don’t encapsulate the total extent of a person’s capabilities.

    Or is it only Labour supporters who are allowed to revel in the vocation of their leaders (e.g., lawyer David Lange helping the battlers of South Auckland)?

    Some other questions? Why is it Labour are obsessed with Key’s previous career, e.g, “Rich Pricks”. Key and National supporters refer to it occasionally, but that is about it. Or does the cloth-cap politics of envy still define them?

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  23. backster (2,082 comments) says:

    I think David might have received his strategy training from the same school of thought as Len Brown so in a way Government under him may well parallel Auckland.

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  24. RightNow (6,679 comments) says:

    It would seem Key has been an effective leader in the private sector before entering politics, and has continued to be since.
    The genius strategic apologist Cun’liffe, on the other hand, appears to be shit at leadership.

    my training at BCG [Boston Consulting Group] was in strategy … working back from your desired future to what you do tomorrow to try to get you on the best path.

    Wow, and your desired path is to be PM. I bet you were shit at your job at BCG.

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  25. Ross12 (1,156 comments) says:

    How long was Cunliffe at Boston Consulting ? From what I recall of his CV it wasn’t that long.

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  26. dime (9,473 comments) says:

    “How long was Cunliffe at Boston Consulting ? From what I recall of his CV it wasn’t that long.”

    4 years.

    But hes like a dog.. 28 cunliffe years

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  27. I Say Look Here (36 comments) says:

    One piece of management-think that may well have escaped Cunliffe’s attention but I’m pretty sure JK is well aware of is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    It’s entirely to his left-leaning type that Cunlliffe wants to get in and mess with stuff, regardless of whether it needs messing with, or whether anything beneficial might come from his messing. Whereas one of Key’s great strengths is that he is smart enough to know what can and what can’t be improved upon, and who would be the best people to offer that improvement if it is possible.

    Unfortunately it does end up giving the Left a weapon to attack Key with, that they can misrepresent his hands-off strategy as lethargy. And there will always be a section of the electorate dumb enough to buy it.

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  28. ShawnLH (3,554 comments) says:

    I would argue that Key is the only one of the two with a long term strategy. Key, unlike Cunliffe and Labour, understands that we have to earn more than we have been, create more wealth, and he has pursued that to the degree he has been able to.

    Labour’s only strategy is to figure out more ways to slice the pie, but nothing they have suggested would actually grow the pie.

    Or, in short, Cunliffe is full of shite.

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  29. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    A major point “Tojo”: If you are so good, why is JK a multi millionaire, and you are not . . . end of story.

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  30. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Yes, because we all know one’s worth as a human being is directly correlated with one’s material status. One that basis, I confidently predict that igm is a bankrupt.

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  31. Judith (7,695 comments) says:

    @ mikenmild (10,383 comments) says:
    July 8th, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    “snigger” touche!

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  32. Judith (7,695 comments) says:

    @ igm (1,333 comments) says:
    July 8th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    As the late great Mae West said ” goodness has nothing to do with it” :-)

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  33. dime (9,473 comments) says:

    “Yes, because we all know one’s worth as a human being is directly correlated with one’s material status.” lol spoken like a poor public servant

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  34. Judith (7,695 comments) says:

    I Say Look Here (26 comments) says:
    July 8th, 2014 at 2:17 pm
    One piece of management-think that may well have escaped Cunliffe’s attention but I’m pretty sure JK is well aware of is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    but not aware of “if its broke – ignore it, lie about paying for it to be repaired, and generally fuck around with it, until there isn’t any chance of it ever working again’.

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  35. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    mikenwimp: Wishful thinking loser, but I can assure you, I am not, and never have been, bankrupt. But that should not worry the likes of you, a leeching public servant, reliant on PSA to keep you in a dead end, overpaid, taxpayer-funded, pathetic position. Get off your arse and go into business, take the risks that are needed, or are you just as one imagines, a gutless arsehole.

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  36. Random Punter (65 comments) says:

    Bingo99 @1.09 pm: “It’s no secret that MFAT staff are usually unemployable anywhere productive after about 5 years in their roles – they can’t think independently…”

    You’re repeating what you said on another thread a few days ago, Bingo, so I’ll repeat what I said in reply:

    Former diplomats have gone on to head other departments (off the top of my head I can think of Justice, Defence, Environment, Transport, and the Prime Minister’s Department), not to mention those who have gone on to distinguished careers in law (one former MFAT officer is now a judge), the private sector, and politics (Tim Groser is pretty good at what he does, I’d have thought).

    I grant you that MFAT has had more than its share of arrogant elitists (David Cunliffe anyone?), but before Murray McCully was let loose on it, it was hardly a “hive of incompetence”.

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  37. ShawnLH (3,554 comments) says:

    “Yes, because we all know one’s worth as a human being is directly correlated with one’s material status. One that basis, I confidently predict that igm is a bankrupt.”

    igm did not say anything remotely like that Mike. He said that in terms of leadership, strategy and wealth creation, Key has a better record than Cunliffe. That says nothing at all like your saying.

    Claiming to want “reasoned discussion” when you misrepresent and lie about what other posters are saying (amongst many similar tactics your fond of) is blatant hypocrisy, and effectively calling igm a worthless human being is gutter level debate.

    If all you have is lies, invective, and verbal diarrhea, save it for Labour/PSA meetings.

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  38. Bingo99 (66 comments) says:

    Sorry Random Punter, MFAT staff are overrated (“the best of the best”) and rarely demonstrate their value in productive areas of the economy. The rest of the public service – hardly what I would call “productive”. You know, the things that generate wealth, boost productivity, employ people, innovate. The things that then PAY for the public sector.

    I should know, I’ve been employed in both public sector and MFAT. I know what it’s like to work in and with MFAT and with ex-MFATers. It’s generally not pleasant – some good ones but they’re a rarity and extremely/openly dismissive of their current Minister, which is hardly professional. I understand you are likely affiliated with MFAT so are defensive, so there’s no point trying to convince you otherwise.

    Meanwhile, what proportion of MFATers are we talking about? How many actually go on to other careers? Careers that lead to something, as already defined, productive? Citing a few unnamed examples, most of which just shuffle around the public sector, is pretty pointless given the size and “pedigree” of the Ministry. And Tim Groser? Really? A thoroughly underwhelming Minister and barely even a representative – his cushy number with Key failed to get him to the WTO gig, despite everything Groser doing being pretty much entirely about Groser. Oh the ego. How very MFAT.

    McCully gave them a wakeup call after their ridiculous indulgence by Clark and Peters.

    But from experience as a manger in the private sector, I have seen the behavior of ex-MFATers both in practice and during recruitment. Let’s just say they either haven’t thrived, or they’ve been deliberately overlooked for roles for which you’d think they’d be suitable (international-management/operations/negotiations). So yeah, through first-hand experience, and widespread opinion in the public sector (MFAT and Treasury seem to breed little princes/ses) I think I’ll be sticking to my assertion thanks.

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  39. 103PapPap (129 comments) says:

    The pint about the relative size of New Zealand is very important. NZ GDP is about 0.2% of the world GDP.

    There are 16 privately owned companies whose revenue exceed the GDP of NZ.

    That’s why, when David Parker talks about ‘manipulating’ the value of our currency with his ‘big tool’, he has one hand down his pants.

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  40. you reap what you sow (29 comments) says:

    the Boston Con story is just that … a con. It’s is making me spew.

    Cunliffe like most consultants is a bull shitter and not a very good one at that.

    Aunty Annette would do way better while standing on one leg, a hand behind her back and with one eye closed.

    Clearly the one issue between key and cunliffe is that key is able to manage his party, while Cunliffe can’t.

    he’s shown he’s unable to organise a piss up in a brewery.

    Next up Grant Robertson.

    Is that it?

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