Diplomats question tactics of Tillerson, the executive turned Secretary of State

The New York Times reports: Even skeptics of Mr. Tillerson’s foreign policy credentials thought the State Department, an agency of 75,000 employees, could use some of the management skills he had picked up as the head of a major corporation. Mr. Tillerson was supposed to know that leaders of large organizations should quickly pick a trusted team, focus on big issues, delegate small ones and ask for help from staff members when needed.

He has done none of those things, his critics contend.

Instead, he has failed to nominate anyone to most of the department’s 38 highest-ranking jobs, leaving many critical departments without direction, while working with a few personal aides reviewing many of the ways the department has operated for decades rather than developing a coherent foreign policy.

“The secretary of state has to focus on the president, his policies and the other heads of government that he deals with, which means he cannot possibly run the department operationally himself,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and an under secretary of state for President George W. Bush. “He has to delegate, and that’s what’s missing now.” [Continue reading…]

As a $340 billion oil giant, Exxon Mobil might look like the model of success and thus efficiency, but I doubt that oil corporations operating in markets with relatively few competitors are immune to the principle that the larger an organization becomes the greater the amount of inefficiency it can sustain. So why assume that Tillerson’s business experience qualifies him to make the State Department more efficient?

Moreover, a CEO who keeps investors happy has a level of job security and lack of accountability that no secretary of state enjoys. Tillerson is currently operating as though he has no time constraints and yet he’s almost certainly little more than three years away from retirement.

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