This week the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will vote on whether or not to leave the EU. This vote on ‘Brexit’ is a strategic decision of the highest order.
For strategic organisational change to succeed, only three things are needed:
- A clear definition of the current problem
- A clear definition of what is wanted instead
- A clear definition of what the first steps would be — not necessarily, the whole journey, just the first steps
The team calling for Brexit has achieved none of these.
The problems they cite range from vague, imprecise, intangible issues such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’ (where it is unclear what the words actually mean or how our own system is or would be any better), to immigration (which has caused some issues but also brought many benefits, and which, as the past year has shown, is better dealt with as a continent than as an individual country), to trade deals and legislation (which again are accused of imperfections but for which no specific examples have been given of what would be removed, and which again have a proven track record of bringing many benefits to the UK).
The problem is undefined.
The solution and next steps are even less clear. Some possibilities have been suggested but each brings its own additional problems. And even the key instigator of Brexit, Nigel Farage, has said he has “absolutely no idea” what would happen if Britain left the EU.
You wouldn’t change the car you drive, you wouldn’t even change your brand of toothpaste, unless there was a clear problem with the one you were using today, you had a clear idea of what you might use instead, and a clear understanding of how to go about making the change you want happen.
None of these applies to Brexit.