The Politics of Kaizen

(The long path of politics)
by Ignazio Caloggero

Formally say what are the things to do
Actually doing the things you are told to do
Prove that you have done what you are told to do


About twenty years have passed since I came up with the idea of ​​a project relating to the application of the concept of quality in politics. The aim of the project was the use of operational and behavioral methodologies aimed at improving an organizational structure.

I believed that such a complex and delicate topic could not be dealt with exhaustively by a single individual, because everything concerning the community needs the contribution of everyone, consequently I tried to involve as many people as possible, opening the project to everyone: to those who were interested in politics at any level, but also to those who were not interested in politics, being however, as a citizen, subject to the consequences of the actions of politicians.

Unfortunately it did not go as I hoped; I have received compliments and approval, but these are not contributions that fill the project with content. I decided to abandon the project… now, after so many years, more for fun than anything else, I have decided to propose it again online, adding some small corrections, without any pretense that this time the results of this initiative are different from those obtained 20 years ago.

It is realistic to think of the impossibility of reaching perfection and therefore of ideal party (or movement), but this consideration does not justify the renunciation of any attempt that allows us at least to reduce the distance that exists between us and perfection, aware that we will never reach it, but with the satisfaction that if we move away from it, it will not be by our will.

Before continuing it is right that you explain what the term Kaizen means, a Japanese word that can be translated with the phrase "continuous improvement". (from Kai = change and Zen = improvement). Applying the Kaizen philosophy means using an incremental methodology which, thanks to small constant steps over time, allows you to reach the set goal.

Those who have the patience to read at least the first part of this work will be able to understand why the concepts of quality and politics are united. I have already made this commonality in other sectors such as the cultural one, and this is not by chance. We must not forget, in fact, that politics and culture should be seen at the service of society, and therefore precisely for this reason constitute a fertile ground for many concepts known to experts in the "quality of services".

In the project, a formal definition of "quality" is first provided. Having defined what quality is, we must then measure it, hence the need to identify measurable criteria through appropriate indicators that allow us to quantify the distance between any party taken as a reference and the ideal one.

In reality, being a party (or movement) a structure divided into many substructures spread throughout the territory and endowed with a certain organizational autonomy (just think of the regional, provincial and municipal bodies), many of these criteria must be applied to the individual substructures of the party, the what is useful in that it makes comparative analyzes possible between distinct structures of the same party.

The real problem in a project like this is not so much identifying the quality factors (they would be just fine words full of nothing), as the indicators that allow them to be measured; in fact, they must have the characteristic of being able to be realized in everyday reality, which varies according to the context. This means that some indicators will be easily achievable in certain contexts but not in others, or their application will be differentiated as it is adapted to the particular operational reality.

Some concepts set out in this document are already present in some party statutes, yet all too often they do not find real application, it is therefore necessary to understand if these concepts are wrong and therefore inapplicable or if there is resistance in their real application; in the first case it is necessary to have the courage to ask for the reformulation of the statutes, in the second case it is necessary to fight in order to overcome the resistance that hinders their application.

The principles, factors and related indicators presented in the document must be considered only as basic elements for further study; in this version some indicators are only stated, others are completely missing, having never completed the project for the reasons mentioned initially.

Other factors will be added, probably among these it will be necessary to deepen concepts such as: governance capacity, credibility, capacity for growth, capacity for innovation and others.

I wanted to add a second part that concerns some of my reflections on topics that have a certain relevance to politics. Anyone who knows me knows that these are not new concepts and reflections as they are exhibited on various occasions, public and private, I just wanted to collect and put together some of my thoughts in order to summarize some ideas in which I believe.

Both in the first and in the second part I enjoyed introducing classic quotations such as, for example, this one by Phaedrus:

"Those who lack virtue and boast in words, deceive those who do not know them, but they are reasons for laughter for those who know them"

of course, the quotations are not intended to show off a culture or linguistic knowledge that I do not have (as Phaedrus rightly suggests, I would only deceive those who do not know me or those who are not educated and would make those who know me well or are gifted with true culture laugh) . I am who I am, and I do not need to hide myself or my ideas behind clichés, but I still believe that I am deeply indebted to the teachings of history, and if I sometimes allow myself to quote classical authors it is because I would like others to reflect and looked to the past, inside themselves and inside history, often ignored teacher, of life.

There are those who believe that it is essential to say something new, original at all costs, I believe that only in part they are right, each new contribution enriches the collective knowledge, but wisdom should advise not to have the presumption to think of being the first to arrive at certain ideas or conclusions. We must try to acquire new things without forgetting to make the best use of those acquired; often we already have what we need without necessarily trying to reinvent it again. Goethe affirmed that everything that is intelligent has already been thought of; just try to think it again.

Behind many ancient phrases there is the testimony of how well our ancestors knew the human soul as well as often demonstrating a wisdom that now seems dying. Their meaning, overcoming the present itself, is destined to remain in the future, available to those who will still have the humility to accept the teachings coming from far away.

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