Categorized | Opinions

Should Protocol be followed or just stated to have been established?

by Warren Cassell

It’s that time of year again when many have just attended a series of graduating ceremonies and/or similar functions.  Over the past 5 years, I have made an interesting observation at these functions on Montserrat.  At the beginning of addressing the audience, the various speakers would make one of the following statements:

“Protocol is established”;

“Permit me to adopt the protocol that has already been established”; or

“I adopt the protocol already established”

At the beginning of 2011, I resolved to refrain from using expletives but by early July reneged on my promise every time I heard someone approach the podium and say “Good day!  Protocol is established!”  What exactly does that mean?  I am on a quest to find out.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “protocol” as a “system of rules governing formal occasions”.  Such rules include how to address members of the audience and in what order.  Protocol dictates that a keynote speaker should be aware of the important people that are attending and address them using their formal titles starting with the most important person.  That one rule of protocol results in the ceremony being an additional 30 minutes since there is a constant disagreement as to who on Montserrat is “important” (the one thing that seems to be the consensus is that the Governor tops the list).  So the list could get awfully long with the Director of Education, the Permanent Secretary and Education Officers getting consolatory mention.

It appears as though the phrase “Protocol is established” is used to avoid addressing the plethora of “important” people that religiously attend these functions.  How is the protocol established?  The custom is that the person who chairs the ceremony first establishes the protocol by addressing in descending order the important people.  For example “His Excellency the Governor – Mr. Adrian Davis, Honourable Premier – Mr. Reuben Meade, Honourable Minister of Education – Mr. Collin Riley” etc.  Having done this the keynote and other speakers are expected to address the audience in the exact same manner as established by the chairperson.

The practice of simply stating “Protocol is established” may lead one to ask the following questions:

If the protocol is established why must I say so?

The chairperson has already expressed that he is establishing the protocol and never require each speaker to repeat such an announcement.  This practice makes no sense.

How does one adopt the protocol?

One would have thought that adopting the protocol was as simple as addressing the audience in the exact manner the chairperson indicated.  Is it sufficient to simply mention “I adopt the protocol that has been established”?   Shouldn’t protocol be followed and not stated that it is adopted?

In other words adopt it through your actions and not through your statements.  You do not adopt something by saying you’re adopting it.  You actually adopt it.

Maybe protocol also dictate that I should not be questioning the protocol.  In Montserrat you are despised when you question a procedure, policy or practice.  You are expected to slavishly and blindly follow the established procedures, policies and practices. No wonder we’ve been doing several right things in the wrong manner…but then again…that’s Montserrat’s protocol.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Warren Cassell

It’s that time of year again when many have just attended a series of graduating ceremonies and/or similar functions.  Over the past 5 years, I have made an interesting observation at these functions on Montserrat.  At the beginning of addressing the audience, the various speakers would make one of the following statements:

“Protocol is established”;

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“Permit me to adopt the protocol that has already been established”; or

“I adopt the protocol already established”

At the beginning of 2011, I resolved to refrain from using expletives but by early July reneged on my promise every time I heard someone approach the podium and say “Good day!  Protocol is established!”  What exactly does that mean?  I am on a quest to find out.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “protocol” as a “system of rules governing formal occasions”.  Such rules include how to address members of the audience and in what order.  Protocol dictates that a keynote speaker should be aware of the important people that are attending and address them using their formal titles starting with the most important person.  That one rule of protocol results in the ceremony being an additional 30 minutes since there is a constant disagreement as to who on Montserrat is “important” (the one thing that seems to be the consensus is that the Governor tops the list).  So the list could get awfully long with the Director of Education, the Permanent Secretary and Education Officers getting consolatory mention.

It appears as though the phrase “Protocol is established” is used to avoid addressing the plethora of “important” people that religiously attend these functions.  How is the protocol established?  The custom is that the person who chairs the ceremony first establishes the protocol by addressing in descending order the important people.  For example “His Excellency the Governor – Mr. Adrian Davis, Honourable Premier – Mr. Reuben Meade, Honourable Minister of Education – Mr. Collin Riley” etc.  Having done this the keynote and other speakers are expected to address the audience in the exact same manner as established by the chairperson.

The practice of simply stating “Protocol is established” may lead one to ask the following questions:

If the protocol is established why must I say so?

The chairperson has already expressed that he is establishing the protocol and never require each speaker to repeat such an announcement.  This practice makes no sense.

How does one adopt the protocol?

One would have thought that adopting the protocol was as simple as addressing the audience in the exact manner the chairperson indicated.  Is it sufficient to simply mention “I adopt the protocol that has been established”?   Shouldn’t protocol be followed and not stated that it is adopted?

In other words adopt it through your actions and not through your statements.  You do not adopt something by saying you’re adopting it.  You actually adopt it.

Maybe protocol also dictate that I should not be questioning the protocol.  In Montserrat you are despised when you question a procedure, policy or practice.  You are expected to slavishly and blindly follow the established procedures, policies and practices. No wonder we’ve been doing several right things in the wrong manner…but then again…that’s Montserrat’s protocol.