How to survive the Parliamentary Reces

How to survive the Parliamentary RecessIt’s that time of year again. Parliaments are slowly beginning to shut down. Political junkies and Superlobbyists will struggle with the free time on their hands.  In the Netherlands, the 8th of July will be the last week. Westminster will shut down on the 22nd. The European Parliament will enter recess on the 24th, I am a bit puzzled that the phenomenon of parliamentary doesn’t get more traction. Neither from journalists or academia. Isn’t it terribly exciting to know what’s going on during this liminal moment in time? I was only able to find an explainer by the Scottish Herald. When it does get the attention it’s more often than not criticism because of the limited amount of days that parliaments are actually in session. I would disagree with this criticism because as the Roman philosopher Seneca said: “It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it”. Having said that, here are some pointers on how to make the most out of your political recess.

Stay sharp in the last week 

It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. It’s important to stay sharp in the last week before recess. Usually, there will be votes tabled and you can’t be in vacay mode until the bell rings. Also, the final day is also a good moment to do business. While everybody is getting drunk you can invite some of your clients or colleagues to the Hague or Brussels so that they can mingle with policymakers informally. Or you can also combine work and play and organize your own reception or barbeque in order to celebrate the end of the political season with your network. 

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Work visits 

As recess hit’s this is also traditionally the time to invite lawmakers to your region or organization for study visits. While most parliamentarians crave vacation just as any human being, they will also be inclined to schedule a working visit or two to show the world they haven’t left politics altogether. Don’t believe me; watch your social media timeline this summer for images of politicians on tractors or in factories. The summer study visit has a different look and feel than during the rest of the year. And without the stress of the parliamentary agenda politicians are more relaxed and open and this creates a great opportunity for bonding and quality time. The weather also allows for unforgettable impressions like boat trips or field trips in nature. For example, renting a pontoon boat for the field visit should get you some bonus points

Watch out for sneak attacks 

Parliaments are on Holiday which sometimes is also the moment that the executive (governments) make decisions or publish policy. The European Commission used to send consultations out just a day before summer hits, and I know governments that send letters to parliaments deep into recess. Parliaments are in the end the boss that holds governments and to an extent society at large accountable. But when the cat’s away the mouse plays so make sure not to go into sleep mode altogether. 

Acquire skills and knowledge 

Summer is a great moment to learn new things. Either by reading books or by doing courses. A lot of us pile up reading lists and buy books, but why not purposely mapping out what skills we want to acquire this summer. I am hooked on courses from Udemy or Masterclass. But you can also get a lot of free MOOCs. I myself will look to up my skills on Twitter advertising and maybe something on video-editing as I am keen to incorporate more video’s in my presentations. 

On books, I will be reading the biography of Erasmus and Alchemy by Rory Sutherland. A blog dedicated to books is up next week. 

Summer Strategic Foresighting (do absolutely nothing) 

We spend a gruesome amount of time in front of flippers and charts, creating timelines and agendas. During each summer I practice Strategic Foresighting simply by closing my eyes and dream about the coming year while I am sunbathing. Or simply by staring at the ocean for hours. Without the pressure of having to create Gant diagrams, flowcharts, and excel sheets my Strategic Foresighting burst into a lot of creative directions and arrives at ideas which I would have never thought of. Take the time to dream and meditate on the coming year while getting a ten or enjoying the summer breeze. I also evaluate the year in the same way. Without my laptop open, without filling out evaluation forms, but with a coffee and great views and without any artificial or external pressure. Here is some music to get you in the mood for summer Strategic Foresighting 

Summer choirs 

I also try to take on some summer chores like cleaning up my email or laptop, or something which will benefit me when the political circus gets back in town. I also like to take on choirs that will benefit my organization.